Inner Mongolia is a province of transitions; striking greenery of the Mongolian steppe meet with harsh desert climates and fast-growing mega cities.

The same could be a metaphor for hospitals. These institutions have prospered under the traditional management model, but are experimenting with western methods to enhance their efficiency.

Dr Yang Zhi Ping, the Chief Executive of Bayannur Hospital, notes an interest in ‘lean management’ methods, where all staff are empowered to suggest changes to structures. This is quite different from a traditional hierarchical model.

“The original lean management ideas and experiences came from European and American countries,” Dr Ping notes. “We need to learn from them and realise the goal of transitioning from a traditional management model to the modern scientific management model”.

This model needs to work in the Chinese context, he adds. “We need to invent a lean management model that is customised for our hospital that will improve patients’ satisfaction,” he says. This would use “minimal resources to achieve maximum efficiency”.

Tech provides part of the answer. Already, the hospital is using Artificial Intelligence in the form of the IBM Watson system. They are also “looking for urgent solutions to improve hospital information systems, and seeking reliant information companies for strategic cooperation.”

One of the main challenges is “information disintegration”, he notes, and they need to connect up multiple databases to become a “smart hospital”.

But that will require two conditions: who uses the data, and who is responsible for it. Trust and integrity is vital in these systems.

Tech can also help with other objectives, he believes. For Inner Mongolia, there is a large rural community that also requires healthcare support. Tech can help share talent to those areas that could otherwise risk being underserved.

There is plenty to do in such a vast province of great transitions. Dr Ping has served as CEO of the SARS treatment centre; run a large country hospital, and is now based in the big city. His hospital will be one to watch as it pioneers a new approach that bridges different management styles and requirements.

Image by syauqee mohamadCC BY 2.0