When discussing medical consumables, a clear focus is generally set on ensuring medical quality and safety, while the related expenses for these goods are also always a big concern. However, many hospitals in China currently apply a rather rudimental way of management when it comes to medical consumables, and several reports have revealed 4 of the related main problems in connection to this:
• 1) Non-standardization of pricing during the bidding process: Due to the hospitals’ different conditions and great variations in scale and size, price setting has become more and more complex. A situation that recently has increasingly led to significantly higher prices in the bidding process in different location.
• 2) The qualifications and capabilities of suppliers is occasionally questionable: In some cases, the supplier may not hold the required and proper licenses and may actually do not fulfill the official requirements set by the respective hospital. However, since the supplier selection methods deployed are occasionally not reasonable, having these non-qualified suppliers involved frequently leads to problems in quoting and ultimately in the delivery of the purchased goods.
• 3) Further issues in the bidding process of consumables: Some manufacturers will only slightly change the low-cost consumables, and then bid at a high price. In that way making the products appear to be of higher quality, while resulting in actually low-quality consumables being purchased by hospitals for unreasonable prices.
• 4) Ineffective control of consumables: Manufacturers have been observed using second-hand products or products that are otherwise not qualified for the bidding process. In other cases, suppliers have used products of decent quality during the bidding, but once having won the bid, they have changed the products to be of lower quality as originally indicated.
Due to the above problems, it is extremely urgent for the Chinese government to intervene in the market, in order to restore order. On June 6, 2019, the National Health Commission of China thus issued a notice on what can be translated as the “Measures for the Administration of Medical Supplies for Medical Institutions (Trial)”. These drafted measures shall then come into force on September 1, 2019. The most significant changes and to be implemented measures can be summarized as follows:
• 1) Full management on the process of the selection, procurement, acceptance, storage, distribution, clinical use, monitoring and evaluation of medical consumables.
• 2) Setting the medical supply catalogue for medical institutions and specify the procurement requirements for medical consumables: It is required to determine the procurement method, products, suppliers and purchase quantities, prices and so forth. Moreover, the purchase agreement shall be processed in hard copy.
• 3) Grading of the medical consumables: Medical consumables are divided into Class I, Class II, and Class III. For the use of high-level consumables, a qualified medical technician is required. Furthermore, when using Class III or implantable medical consumables, the patient shall be given a notification in the form of a hard copy.
• 4) Medical institutions are required to establish internal management systems for the medical consumables, which cover, among other aspects, the selection, procurement, acceptance, storage, and adverse event monitoring. The lifespan of every medical consumable shall further be traceable on the system.