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U.S.-China Health Collaboration – Why the Time is NOW?

Mark Davis talks about how the U.S. and China collaborate in health development. He also gives an example of the collaboration of Brigham Health International and Hengda (Evergrande Health).

“Why the time is now (to start collaboration)? The time is now not only because we can, but because we must.”

Mark A. Davis, Vice President of Brigham Health International; Executive Director of Business Development and Strategic Initiatives, Brigham Health

Following are the speech transcription:

Why the time is now? The time is now not only because we can, but because we must. I'm an emergency physician background. I've done international health in my career with the WHO, USAID, and Africa. And we're talking about some of the international collaborations with many parties in the Middle East. At times of conflict between warring parties, using health is the driver for communication between those parties.

First, We need to take a step back and think about what's happened in global health. What a remarkable time for us to be in this business together. The idea that life expectancy worldwide increased by over 10 years in such a short period of time in our lifetime. I used to give this talk and talk about what was happening in China, about barefoot doctors, about vaccination programs, and what a remarkable achievement in such a short period of time.

The healthy life expectancy similarly has increased over this period, and as we know and as was discussed, the whole idea that we've moved from nation internationally and certainly within China as well, from communicable diseases which are going down to non-communicable diseases, chronic diseases which have risen. And as an emergency physician, I always like to point out when I was at the WHO and other places, that road accidents and injuries are something that is present and often not widely discussed. Also, of course, impacting these changes is the whole issue of the expansion of the middle class. A remarkable achievement recently that more than half of the international population is now in the middle class. What an amazing time. What an amazing statistic in that. Eighty-eight percent of the next billion entrants into the middle class will be in Asia. And of course, we've spoken about the increase in expenditures and the change in the China health care system. I'm sure it's our collective hope that we're going to meet somewhere in the middle between the amazing amount of money that we spend in the United States and the growth that we can become value-based and much more thoughtful in our health care.

I work in Partners Health Care System with my colleagues around here, also faculty member at Harvard Medical School. What are the areas where this collaboration could, should and will take place to really impact in the next 20 or 30 years, how do we lead? How do we become a part of what should happen as we save lives?

First is to get involved together, as was mentioned before, in crisis and humanitarian work. There is nothing that brings together parties more at the visceral level that being engaged in this way. Health care planning, international, national, regional, local planning, things with which we've been involved to bring Brigham Health in China facilities design and beyond. I remember remarkably being in Boao Speaking at the Boao Forum for Asia and also helping Hengda (Evergrande Health). Seeing this piece of land that was full of weeds and dirt as we designed this hospital together, remarkably, I came back in six months. Half of the hospital was done nine months, three quarters a year later, there's this beautiful facility. So, I like And we have China time, which is measured in months, sometimes and weeks; and our local time which can be longer. We have manged to find the right balance in our collaborations together. Operational design being involved in service line planning is important from the beginning.

How do we think about multi-disciplinary care? What about operations? How do we work together in quality safety and monitoring telehealth? How do we find modern ways to really use telehealth? My first experience with telehealth was trying to take care of astronauts on the space station 25 years ago. How are we going to use tele-technologies at NASA and Johnson Space Center to do that? I was told 25 years ago that telehealth would take over medicine. It's only going to be two years. But I think it certainly has an important role to play in our work together collaboratively with care, education, research and innovation. And I do want to mention what was alluded to earlier, which is that we do have an obligation and an opportunity and something that I have been very invested in in the Middle East. We worked at times of armed conflict between parties. To use medicine is the way of boosting and bolstering communication between parties. We have the ability and opportunity to do that as health care professionals.

In conclusion, as we talk about telemedicine, tela-pathology, it turns out that at the Brigham health system, that when we receive slides from somewhere in the United States, there is an approximately, 1 in 5 or 1 in 10 chance that Brigham will reread the slide and change cancer treatment and diagnosis. What an amazing statistic that even in the United States we start out probably with at least a 15 percent error rate before we even begin treatment. Radiology accuracy is similarly important. We work together with our colleagues. We also occasionally see patients from China and around the world. But our goal is to work collaboratively to the approval of local health care capacities in much of the same way as we spoke about Beijing.

Thanks you!

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