A significant fall in hospital visits is excellent news for the classified health service system in Shanghai.
Average hospital visits last year dropped by 30 percent among local residents who signed an agreement for general physician service, officials from Shanghai Health and Family Planning Commission said.
Shanghai started in 2015 to introduce its health reform system aimed at encouraging people to make more use of their local GPs.
Under the system, each neighborhood will have a health center, and one district-level and one city-level hospital.
Patients are encouraged to visit their GP ahead of a hospital visit. People with complicated conditions will receive a more prompt reservation of specialists in big hospitals as well as a smoother hospital transfer between different levels of hospitals.
The system also allows patients to get medicines — normally only available at leading hospitals — at their neighborhood health centers.
Furthermore, the prescription quantity for chronic diseases can be extended from the usual two weeks to two months, saving patients the trouble of repeated hospital visits just for medicines.
"Many elderly people and those with chronic diseases go to big hospitals regularly in order to get medicines which are not on the drug list at the neighborhood. It results in a big waste of health resources and gives patients much trouble for going all the way to crowded hospitals," said Gao Guangwen from the health commission.
"We started to carry out a policy last year through cooperation with leading pharmaceutical companies, which distribute these medicines to neighborhood health centers and even patients' homes. It not only makes it more convenient for patients but also relieves pressure on big hospitals."
Li Yongzhong, vice president of Shanghai Pharmaceutical Co, said his company received more than 300,000 prescriptions and distributed over 1 million packs of medicines to neighborhood health centers last year.