China to Use Clinical Pathways and DRGs to Curb Healthcare Spending

China’s government is working to use clinical pathways and diagnosis-related groups (DRGs) to curb the country’s spending on healthcare. Adding on to the 1,010 pathways published in December 2016, the China Medical Association (CMA) published 202 clinical pathways for specific indications in June 2017. These pathways provide standardized disease management plans and greatly influence the treatment plan of doctors. Clinical pathways are also used to improve outcomes and reduce costs. The most recently published 202 pathways will affect clinical practice immediately, particularly in regards to cardiology and respiratory medicine.

The government is still in the beginning phases of reducing costs through the use of DRGs. Authorities plan to first launch DRG pilot schemes in 37 hospitals across Guangdong, Xinjiang, and Fujian province. China aims to have the pilot hospitals complete a preliminary appraisal by 2018, and to gradually expand DRGs across the country by 2019 or 2020.