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The SRHIN (Shenzhen Regional Health Information Network) is a government initiative created by the Ministry of Health of the People’s Republic of China Ministry of Health of the People’s Republic of China. The city of Shenzhen was selected as a pilot site for developing these RHINs in China . The entire goal was to create and implement a nationwide health information network system on the basis of the digital hospitals in China.[1]


China’s health care system has experiencing profound changes accompanied by its economic reforms in the late 1980’s. The major changes included dismantling its rural cooperative medical system and allowing considerable financial independence to hospitals. In other words, hospitals need to generate the majority of their income through user fees such as medical services, tests, and pharmacy sales. Currently, China healthcare is provided on the fee-for-service basis. China’s Health Information Technology (HIT) development has been lagged than its economic development. Only recently there are a few clinical systems that have been implemented. Although China has made great progress in a relatively short time period, there are many challenges and weaknesses that have impeded its healthcare information system development and widespread implementation. For example, weak application software and a scarcity of implementation skills, insufficient amount of investments, and inefficient administrative systems. There is an increase number of Chinese hospitals that hope to dramatically improve and extensively digitize their work processes in the near future. RHIN is an initiative in response to this need. [1]



  • Economic reform in the early 1980s resulted in major changes in China's healthcare system.
  • In the late 1980s, hospitals began to generate the majority of their income through user fees, a practice that continues today. Healthcare is now provided on a fee-for-service basis.
  • China's health information technology HIT development has a relatively short history. Approximately started in the mid-1990s.
  • There are great unmet needs for application software and implementation skills in Chinese healthcare industry.
  • Most Chinese hospitals are attempting to dramatically improve and extensively digitize their work processes in the near future.

Project on Construction of National Public Health Information System

After the SARS outbreak, the work group of the Ministry of Health for information construction drafted the Project on Construction of National Public Health Information Systems, which intended to establish the objectives, principles, and guideline for such a construction. In addition, the framework was also proposed for guiding further actions. On September 17, 2003, information construction work group of the Ministry of Health, held a Meeting for further discussions about the construction of public health information systems in China. [2]

HIT Adoption

Health information technology is in its infancy in China, and IT usage in hospitals is more than 40 years behind the advance of computing and information technology. Most hospitals in China primarily adopted IT software into their payment and billing systems. Recently, there are an increasing number of Chinese hospitals that have also begun integrating IT into clinical systems.[3]

Major Problems Related to HIT Adoption in Chinese Healthcare Information System

  • The use of IT in clinical systems has generally established on a departmental basis.
  • IT systems are largely separate among hospitals.
  • Inexperience with IT infrastructure. e.g. obstacles with fragmentation, duplicative systems, and poor integration.

Current status

  • Imbalanced development in different regions in China with the proportion of hospitals adopting health information system in East China was significantly higher than that in Northwest China.
  • Less than 30% of the population receive any medical insurance in China.
  • IT system generally stands-alone. From 1970 to 1980, it was primarily used in out-patients charge, in-patient charge and drug warehouse management.
  • Department basis. Lack of interoperability and information exchanges.
  • Progress for integrity of hospital information system. There are many big hospitals constructed integrity hospital information system since the early 1990s.
  • Telemedicine. Utilizing IT and network to transmit diagnostic digital images such as CT scans, MRIs and ultrasound CT has being adopted by many large hospitals for providing remote medical services.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Yu G. China HIT case study. HIT Briefing Book, 49–52.
  3. Yu G.Y."Established and Application of 'No. 1 Military Project' ". Hosp Admin J Chin PLA,7(6): 402–4.

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Historically Important Electronic Medical Record Systems