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The Greater Bay Area: Why Co-operation is the Best Medicine

2020-4-1 19:21:41      Hit:

There will be much discussion and debate before the outline plan for the Greater Bay Area (GBA) begins to take on its final shape. One key area of deliberation on which – quite literally – the well‑being of the project and the tens of millions of people it aims to benefit rests, will surely be the provision of healthcare.

With close to nine decades in the global healthcare business, Baxter Healthcare – a subsidiary of the US Fortune 500 giant , Baxter International Inc – brings a wealth of knowledge to the GBA table. Baxter works with some 43 public and 12 private hospitals in Hong Kong. It also provides healthcare products for the small number of major public and private hospitals and clinics in Macao, and boasts an extensive sales and marketing, research and development and production network in mainland China and across Asia.

It has six business units which cover a broad spectrum of healthcare needs – renal care, pharmaceutical, advanced surgery, clinical nutrition, medication delivery systems (e.g. smart intravenous solutions and infusion pumps) and acute care (e.g. acute renal failure support for intensive care unit patients).

The company’s General Manager for Hong Kong, Gary Wong, believes the expertise Baxter has built up through its activities across Greater China and the Asia‑Pacific region, will be important in shaping healthcare development in the GBA.

Clinical Trials

He thinks the central government’s plan for the GBA offers considerable potential in the areas of technological innovation, the utilisation of patient data to ensure better health outcomes, encouraging patients to engage with their own care and, more importantly, conducting the clinical trials necessary to give products, technology and drugs the regulatory approval required to allow them to be used.

Stressing the main advantage he believes the GBA can bring to the development of clinical trials, Wong said: “One of Hong Kong’s undoubted strengths is the high quality of clinical trial centres we have here – for example at the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong , along with their highly‑accredited teaching hospitals such as the Prince of Wales Hospital , the Queen Mary Hospital , the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital , the Gleneagles Hong Kong Hospital and The University of Hong Kong – Shenzhen Hospital .

“However, it is a simple fact that Hong Kong is a city with a population of around 7.5 million, so no matter how high the quality of the clinical trials, the city simply can’t provide the numbers of patients often required to make the trials effective. In short, Hong Kong, as a pioneer of medical technology and a regional reference centre for healthcare innovations, has the quality, but not the quantity. That’s where the GBA comes in, with a population – and therefore a patient base – of something like 10 times that of Hong Kong.”

Overcoming Hurdles

There are, Wong pointed out, still hurdles in the way of realising this potential. For example, with the GBA comprising several regions with differing regulations, methodologies and cultures regarding clinical trials and other healthcare matters, a lot of things still need to be ironed out.

Admitting that this will be no small task, Wong said: “In this field, Hong Kong has a different system from the rest of China and that is something to be discussed in order to bring the different systems together to work in a cohesive way.

“No‑one is saying that this will be easy and we will have to discuss the issue with various medical professionals and health authorities within the GBA, as well as with the relevant professional bodies, in order to come to some kind of consensus as to the best way forward.”

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Baxter technology enables dialysis patients to carry out treatment at home.

Patient-centred Approach

Baxter hopes to bring to the GBA the same patient‑centred innovation‑driven approach to healthcare that it has already pioneered in Hong Kong. One example of this is the company’s part in making Hong Kong the first marketplace in the Asia Pacific region to have introduced a “Remote Patient Management (RPM)” system.

The system, which enables kidney dialysis patients to carry out their own treatment at home, allows them to use a cloud application to keep a record of their dialysis sessions and other details. Data can then be stored in the cloud for healthcare professionals to study in real time in order to improve the care given to the patient.

Wong said there should be no concerns about data privacy, pointing out that the RPM system is already up and running in the US and European countries, whose data privacy protections and standards have been adopted as part of the overall system here.

Wong added that the RPM system fits neatly into Baxter ’s ethos of using innovation to deliver personalised care, saying: “It falls squarely into our advocacy of patient empowerment and patient‑centred care. It’s all about engaging patients in the delivery of their own healthcare and helping them to gain control over their own lives and increase their capacity to act on issues that they themselves define as important.”

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