China must get healthcare inputs – clinics, hospitals, medical devices, biotech and healthcare information technology (HIT) – to become meaningful drivers of economic growth rather than costs that add further headwinds to the 2030 health goals. Its regional economic competitors – South Korea and Japan specifically – have struggled with how to best adjust their approach to innovation around healthcare inputs without driving up public expenditure to unsustainable levels. In these two countries’ recent experience, past policies that emphasized healthcare, biotech and HIT innovation have been forced to come to terms with economic reality, as evidenced by changes to pricing and reimbursement policies and IP practices that attempt to accelerate the public’s ability to access and afford specific types of innovation.
The Healthy China 2030 plan does, though, look to accelerate reforms that relate to access, affordability, quality, and innovation. The continued opening of healthcare to the private sector, as well as creating, channeling and consolidating healthcare date in order to help make public policy decisions, will be crucial to making the health sector part of China’s economic powerhouse.