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Chinese health care system and clinical epidemiology

Authors Sun Y, Gregersen H, Yuan W

Received 6 December 2016

Accepted for publication 27 January 2017

Published 16 March 2017 Volume 2017:9 Pages 167—178

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CLEP.S106258

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Lucy Goodman

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Henrik Toft Sørensen


Yuelian Sun,1 Hans Gregersen,2 Wei Yuan3

1Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark; 2GIOME, Department of Surgery, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 3Key Laboratory of Reproduction Regulation of NPFPC, SIPPR, IRD, Fudan University, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China

Abstract: China has gone through a comprehensive health care insurance reform since 2003 and achieved universal health insurance coverage in 2011. The new health care insurance system provides China with a huge opportunity for the development of health care and medical research when its rich medical resources are fully unfolded. In this study, we review the Chinese health care system and its implication for medical research, especially within clinical epidemiology. First, we briefly review the population register system, the distribution of the urban and rural population in China, and the development of the Chinese health care system after 1949. In the following sections, we describe the current Chinese health care delivery system and the current health insurance system. We then focus on the construction of the Chinese health information system as well as several existing registers and research projects on health data. Finally, we discuss the opportunities and challenges of the health care system in regard to clinical epidemiology research. China now has three main insurance schemes. The Urban Employee Basic Medical Insurance (UEBMI) covers urban employees and retired employees. The Urban Residence Basic Medical Insurance (URBMI) covers urban residents, including children, students, elderly people without previous employment, and unemployed people. The New Rural Cooperative Medical Scheme (NRCMS) covers rural residents. The Chinese Government has made efforts to build up health information data, including electronic medical records. The establishment of universal health care insurance with linkage to medical records will provide potentially huge research opportunities in the future. However, constructing a complete register system at a nationwide level is challenging. In the future, China will demand increased capacity of researchers and data managers, in particular within clinical epidemiology, to explore the rich resources.

Keywords: China, health care, insurance, registry, clinical epidemiology

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