Fri, May 01, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Cabinet approves plan to boost health care sector

ACCESS BY INTERNET The proposal includes developing high-tech medical treatment and digitalizing patient records at hospitals around the country within five years

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Cabinet yesterday approved a plan to boost the health care industry to better serve the public and attract people from China and other countries to receive medical treatment in Taiwan.

However, Department of Health Minister Yeh Ching-chuan (葉金川), who presented the proposal to the Cabinet, told a press conference after the meeting that the main goal of the plan was to enhance public health security, not increase profits.

The proposal involves developing high-tech medical treatment and digitalizing patient records at all hospitals and clinics around the country within five years, Yeh said.

“Upon creating the system, it will be possible to transmit records over the Internet with the permission of the patient and the hospital that has the original case history documentation, including X-ray images, computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging,” Yeh said.

The program would cost the government NT$1.4 billion (US$41.78 million), Yeh said, adding that this was far less than the US’ budget for the same proposal, which was about NT$8 billion.

Also included in the proposal was long-distance health care, with hospitals providing care to patients in far-away places via information technology.

“The IT industry is one of Taiwan’s strengths. As Taiwan takes the lead in this field, high-tech medical treatments developed in the country will become know-how that we can export to other countries,” Yeh said.

The Cabinet also wants to internationalize the health care industry to attract people from China and other countries for everything from physical exams to treatment for serious illnesses.

“Hospitals have started preparing booklets introducing themselves in simplified Chinese characters and English, while the government will revise regulations to simplify visa application procedures for the purpose of medical treatment,” Yeh said.

Yeh said the government would invest NT$86.4 billion in the project over the next four years and expected to create 310,000 jobs in that time and increase the output value of the health care industry to NT$346.4 billion.

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