Zhang Xiaopeng: From Vice President of Beijing Cancer Hospital to CEO of Hospital Corporation of China Limited (a Medical Group)

Article Source:www.yuncaijing.com   Updated: 2017-03-17 09:51:00

It makes people more relaxed to stay with Zhang Xiaopeng compared with other doctors.

It does not disrespect doctors. Actually, one of my close relatives is a doctor. However, if you have ever had an illness, you may understand what I’m saying. Zhang looks just like an ideal doctor: he is kind, patient, and competent. His competence can be traced in his resume.

According to his introduction in baike.baidu.com, Zhang has all characteristics of industrial elites: he graduated from a famous school, serves in multiple academic committees, often publishes papers on major academic publications, and serves as business expert and leader of companies. Therefore, I was really surprised by his modesty at first glance. Before serving as CEO of Hospital Corporate of China Limited (hereinafter referred to as the “Group”) under Hony Capital, Zhang had already been one of most successful tumor imaging experts in China. He is a professor and doctorial tutor. He once worked as medical vice president of Beijing Cancer Hospital. However, he is not that typical both as a doctor and as an investor.

Whatever, it is really lucky to interview an amiable doctor. It’s more lucky that I leant about his brand new thoughts on hospital management and medical industrial development in China in the following three-hour dialogue in an easy and relaxing atmosphere. 

Confusions from a doctor

In his medical career, he is long confused by a problem. An expert in a Class A hospital, Zhang has to tutor advanced students who are excellent representatives from community hospitals from all over the country. However, Zhang finds that these advanced students attach great attention to the improvement of their medical skills, such as how to perform operations better.

It seems understandable that doctors care much about improvement of their medical skills. However, according to Zhang, it is not a good phenomenon and this is the core problem of the whole medical industry. “I think the center of the medical education system and management system has gradually shifted from patients to technologies. Hospitals compete with each other in terms of scale, equipment, and facility. Many hospitals take advanced technologies and devices as their operating guiding concept. If hospitals attach too much attention to technologies, equipment, and facilities, the industrial development direction may deviate from the normal track, and problems may occur,” said Zhang.

His conclusions are sourced from his deep insight into the doctor-patient relationship. His father was a doctor coming to Ningxia to provide medical services in Northwest China in 1950s. His father kept a good relationship with his patients throughout his lifetime, even in the Cultural Revolution period. As recalled by Zhang Xiaopeng, most doctors dared not to visit patients at home for safety purposes during the Cultural Revolution period. However, his father often went out to see ill people at midnight because he believed that the people really needed him.

Still young, Zhang Xiaopeng found that his father treated his patients sincerely and the therapeutic effect was always particularly good. Patients whose illness was not alleviated or alleviated slowly after seeing a doctor can recover from illness soon after being treated by his father. “What’s the root cause? I think love matters. You can do a thing well if you love it.” Influenced by his father, Zhang thinks about the doctor-patient relationship.

In the current society, the degree of respect to doctors and satisfaction with the hospitals do not increase with improvement of the health level of the citizens, which is obviously contradicting. Why the doctor-patient relationship is so strained? Why does each party think it is the one that suffers in doctor-patient disputes? Zhang always thinks about the reasons why his father never encountered such problems, even the medical conditions were much poorer at that time.

His answer is that, “doctors can never cure a patient if they do not really care about the patient.” His opinion makes abstract the medical science, the most representative branch of modern sciences because the opinion seems absolutely correct and cannot be irrefutable. However, it is not easy question to answer in the medical field pursuing for quantization and standardization.

However, Zhang has no intention to make medicine science mysterious. He thinks it is easy to understand the annotation; the cause for illness is closely related to a person’s behavior, environment, and life. If you do not care much about the person, you can hardly judge the cause for his illness. Besides, Zhang thinks that the doctor-patient relationship is built based on mutual trust between the doctor and the patient. It is non-sense to say other things without the mutual trust.

When his was young, Zhang asked his father the reason why his father could cure a patient that cannot be cured by another doctor. His father answered, the medicine was the same, but the patient did not trust the doctor. We can explain his father’s answer in such a way: disease treatment is a complicated process, and medicines and scalpels are just one of methods to cure the illness. 

Based on his father’s influence and his own thoughts, Zhang gradually believes in the patient-oriented concept. He determines to make an experiment to test the significance of such a concept to the modern hospital management.

Hony Capital, Bosom Friend

Zhang is always grateful for cultivation and experience in Beijing Cancer Hospital. He worked under two open-minded presidents one after another: Xu Guangwei, founding president, and You Weicheng, the successor of Xu. The two presidents with humanistic emotions have provided great support to Zhang Xiaopeng in his experiments in the hospital. In particular, President You Weicheng, an epidemiologist with more than 20 years of service experience in top American medical institutions, tries to implant the patient caring mode in American hospitals in China, which coincides with Zhang’s ideas.

With joint efforts by You and Zhang, Beijing Cancer Hospital began to promote a patient-oriented overall caring system featuring multi-disciplinary collaboration, hospital resource integration, and care for patient. The performance assessment core has shifted from title, amount of paper published, and technologies to care for and medical service to patients.

Changes came one after another. The number of outpatients and hospitalized patients in Beijing Cancer Hospital and the hospital reputation increased remarkably in five years. For example, the patients in the Breast Center of Beijing Cancer Hospital accounted to 25% of total patients with breast problems in Beijing. The doctors had established good mutual trust with patients. With soaring business volume, the hospital also boasted a great of scientific research results, and cultivated many excellent experts. “The medical professionals are the same, but the hospital has changed. Such social practice makes me believe that the love-based medical practice can promote the hospital development.” His confidence greatly increases due to this experiment success. He wants to popularize this mode outside public hospitals and in the whole medical system. He knows he needs a bigger platform.

At this time, Hony Capital enters his sight. Noticing great development opportunities in the medical industry, Hony Capital, a famous investment institution in China, highly anticipated Zhang’s joining to excavate these opportunities together. Zhao Linghuan, President and CEO of Hony Capital put forward that they should create a hospital investment management platform featuring advanced management, quality services, and outstanding brands. Instead of just investing in several hospitals, Zhao Linghuan planned to create the Group into a platform featuring long term and repeated investment of large volume in the medical field from the very beginning.

However, at the beginning, Zhang was very cautious about the opportunity which can help him to realize his ambition. He knew that the combination between capitals and the medical industry did not always mean good results in China. Therefore, looking at the word “insight” in the tea house, Zhang made a few rules with the medical investment team of Hony Capital. He told the team that if the team can agree with his must-be principles, he could join them. Zhang said he was clear about the medical group he wanted to join. Next, he described his ideal medical group from the prospects of values, visions, and missions.

He summarizes the values of the medical group into “keep credibility, respect people, and care for life”. “It may be said that the value concept is too abstract and has nothing to do with investment. But I think we should go down to the root problem. If the three principles cannot be followed, nothings can be done.” He further explained that as for keeping credibility, doctors shall keep credibility to patients, hospitals shall keep credibility to investors, investors shall keep credibility to hospitals they invest, and patients shall keep credibility to doctors; otherwise, things cannot be done. As for respecting people, only through mutual respect can we do the business well. As for caring for life, the most important thing in the world is life. Our medical market shares will uncertainly grow each we care for life of each individual.

As for hospitals missions, Zhang think that hospitals shall take protecting public health and providing systematic, consistent and quality medical care services as their missions. Focus shall not be placed on illness. Instead, hospitals shall be patient-oriented, integrate pre-hospital, in-hospital, and post-hospital services, and provide comprehensive services. “We should take serious the life of patients."

Zhang takes “to become a respected and trusted healthcare holding company that strives for excellence” as the vision of the medical group. “We should, with our sincere efforts, win trust and support from the public, medical professionals, governments, investors, and other stakeholders. I believe organizations doing right things in China can make profits. Besides, being respected means we should do decent things in a decent way. Finally, a grand goal for the medical group is to strive for excellence.”

All these values, missions and vision serve the one goal: creating best hospitals in the neighborhood. “This is the guiding principle of the medical group that always applies when we select hospitals to invest. It applies when we have any different opinions with enterprises to be invested and with investors. It serves as a benchmark for us,” said Zhang.

Hony Capital fit it easily with Zhang about his description on the future blueprint. “Let’s cooperate to create just such a medical group. It can certainly create huge social values.” Hospital Corporation of China Limited, a subsidiary of Hony Capital focusing on hospital investment and operating management was established consequently.

Experiment in Yangsi Hospital about Turning Love into Productivity

Shanghai Yangsi Hospital is the first private hospital acquired by the Group after the Group’s establishment. Conventionally, Zhang visited the patients’ status in wards and the outpatient department of a hospital instead of its medical professionals during survey on a hospital. According to Zhang, the patients’ status can precisely reflect the overall operating of a hospital, and the real relationship between doctors and patients.

Yangsi Hospital impressed Zhang well. Despite of its extensive management, Zhang still can sense the care from the hospital for the patients. “This hospital is a diamond in the rough,” thought Zhang. Yangsi Hospital was under great challenge at that time. Due to establishment of two Class A public hospitals around, Yangsi Hospital had a great patient flow decrease and a big employee turnover, with the turnover rate of doctors and nurses of 14% and 22.9% respectively.

Zhang was more an excellent doctor before joining the Group. After that, he could make full use of his competence as a manager. His first task when transforming Yangsi Hospital is how to communicate the Group’s values, missions, and vision among employees of Yangsi Hospital in a strategic way.

Zhang made a bold attempt. He invited a third-party company to perform a comprehensive evaluation on the hospital in terms of 45 indicators covering 17 dimensions. During the evaluation, patients, instead of doctors or nurses, are invited to score for the hospital. Zhang wanted to know patients’ satisfaction with, recognition of, and loyalty to the hospital. According to Zhang, “satisfaction related to your feeling when seeing a doctor in the hospital, recognition relates to your willingness to go to the hospital for treatment, and loyalty related to your willingness to recommend the hospital to your relatives and friends.”

As Zhang expected, the results were not satisfactory. After knowing patients’ impression on the hospital, Zhang began to communicate the Group’s values, missions, and vision among leaders of Yangsi Hospital. He summarized these values, missions, and vision into one goal: creating best hospitals in the neighborhood. “We do all the things for this goal. Looking back, it can be found that all decisions we made later help us to realize the goal,” said Zhang.

The Group does not interfere much the daily operating and management of enterprises it invests. Actually, the management team of the Group has only 10 members who have to manage multiple enterprises the Group invests simultaneously. According to Zhang, the management team shall not have too many people; otherwise, the management will be in disorder. It can be understood that the work of the management team of the Group is to integrate the advanced hospital management concepts and methods into enterprises the Group invests.

In his opinions, the management team just needs to do four things: Firstly, leading the enterprise to work toward the goal of creating best hospitals in the neighborhood. Enterprises with big ambitions shall have clear development goal and move toward the right direction; secondly, teaching skills. The management team should teach the managers how to manage their teams and teach different teams how to cooperate each other, assist business departments to develop their divisions, teach nurses how to improve their professional skills, and communicate operating and management concepts and methods to the stakeholders; thirdly, evaluating progresses. The management team shall detect highlights, summarize lessons, affirm good performance, and demonstrate the shortcomings of the managers and employees; fourthly, inspiring others. The management team shall cooperate with the hospital and joint efforts with invested enterprises. They should take success of the hospital as theirs, and sincerely cheer for and cheer up the hospitals.

Regardless of the management modes, the one principle shall always be followed: people-oriented, which is the starting and end point of hospital management put forward by Zhang. Different from other managers, Zhang cares least about the superficial performance, because he can well know the management status of a hospital just after a visit to the hospital. He thinks that when each person at each post does his job well, and patients are relaxed and in good status, the hospital is running well in the whole.

Yangsi Hospital even has taken charge over medical service in the neighboring nursing home with 200 beds, built a corridor connecting to the nursing home at its own cost, and built an evaluator for the elders to see doctors, thus reinvigorating the struggling nursing house. Up to now, Yangsi Hospital takes charge over medical services in five nursing homes with a total of 1500 beds. Many hospitals think the medical hosting service is troublesome. However, Zhang said, “I’m willing to provide medical hosting services as long as we can cover the medical cost by improving the management. We think the 1500 elders represent 1500 families. The elders’ family members will notice our care for these elders, and they will love Yangsi Hospital”.

He is right. Yangsi Hospital indeed is winning increasingly more recognition. According to the satisfaction survey performed one year later, the patient loyalty increased to 97%, while the employee turnover decreased to 3.5%, and medical quality has improved comprehensively.

 “The hospital does have changed,” he said proudly. What is significant is that the latest survey results show that 81% of patients think that Yangsi Hospital has advanced technologies, the percentage being 20% in the past. Zhang asks himself: “What is the cause when the medical professionals are the same?” Actually, he is clear about the answer, it is the people-oriented principle that contributes to the business success and public welfare success of Yangsi Hospital. The purpose why he joined the Group is to make an experiment on how to use social capitals to benefit the public in a proper way, so that the public can sense that the medical fairness is within reach and conforms to their benefits. Zhang now moves further closer to the success of his experiment.

“We are making efforts to create best hospitals in the neighbor, and take as our mission to protect the public health and provide systematic, consistent, and quality medical care services. What the public needs most are caring and quality hospitals. It is our largest contribution to make efforts toward this goal in ten years,” said Zhang.