Chief Manager (Chinese Medicine)
Chinese Medicine; COVID-19
Chinese Medicine (CM) is an integral part of Chinese culture. Modernisation in CM in past decade focuses on regulations, systems and process in clinic management. The COVID-19 pandemic, while posing a severe health threat worldwide in the early 2020, has brought opportunities to the CM industry in initiating advances and transformation in serving the healthcare needs in the Hong Kong territory.
In attending to the pandemic, the Hospital Authority (HA) has adopted a number of new technology to develop new service delivery models in the provision of CM service to serve patients in need at the right place and at the right time. Success in telecare in CM requires not only familiarization of the use of communication device by both service providers and patients, but thorough risk assessment and well-designed protocol, comprising clinical and operational, is deemed required.
Pilot adoption of telecare to provide CM inpatients service at Treatment Centre for COVID-19 (AsiaWorld-Expo) (TCC(AWE)) and North Lantau Hospital Hong Kong Infection Control Centre (HKICC) in January 2021 was thoughtfully introduced with due regard to the clinical operation mode and infection control measures of the community treatment facilities. Consultations by CM Practitioners (CMPs) were made possible in non-isolation areas via video calls, supported by other system control including use of electronic consent form and the Chinese Medicine Information System for drug prescription to enable prompt delivery of drugs for patient use in isolated areas. The service was then enhanced and supported by hybrid model and bedside attendance.
Subsequently the experience of CM service in TCC(AWE) and HKICC laid foundations for use of tele-consultations. During the fifth wave of the pandemic in early 2022, HA introduced a remote telecare / outreach CM programme for Residential Care Homes for the Elderly (RCHEs) which joint hands with the CM industry, three Universities with CM studies and NGOs; the service had timely supported the needy infected elderly residents. Timely intervention by CMPs through telecare was well received by the community and more CM tele-consultation service is being supported by the CM industry to serve infected persons isolated at home in Hong Kong.
Application of telecare in CM service in Hong Kong is just a start and further modernisation especially on sharing of health information on electronic record management platform requires promulgation and active participation from CM industry and the public.
Conflict of Interests:
The author reports no conflicts of interest related to this anecdotal account
Ms Rowena Wong is currently the Chief Manager of the Chinese Medicine Department of Hospital Authority. Ms Wong is a seasoned senior executive with substantial management experience. She practiced and obtained her clinical and management experience in both Asia and Canada in her earlier career before joining the public organization in Hong Kong in 2009. She holds a Master degree and a Graduate Diploma in Management Consulting.
In her current position, she manages the development of Chinese Medicine services related to Hospital Authority including the tripartite Chinese Medicine Clinics and Training and Research Centres set up at the 18 districts over the territory and the Integrated Chinese-Western Medicine service covering seven hospital clusters of the Hospital Authority. Under the Chinese Medicine policy framework of Hong Kong, she has successfully led the transformation and repositioning of Chinese Medicine Clinics and Training and Research Centres to provide government subsidised Chinese Medicine services at district level. She has implemented various enhancement initiatives in the Integrated Chinese-Western Medicine programme and takes a significant role in establishing collaboration with Chinese Medicine Hospital.
Ms Wong also contributed to the engagement of Chinese Medicine in combating COVID-19 pandemic. She steered the implementation of special Chinese Medicine programme for providing Chinese Medicine out-patient rehabilitation services to discharged COVID-19 patients as well as Chinese Medicine treatment to COVID-19 in-patients at Treatment Centre for COVID-19 (AsiaWorld-Expo) / North Lantau Hospital Hong Kong Infection Control Centre. In the 5th wave of COVID-19 epidemic, she drove collaboration with the private Chinese medicine sector and professional bodies to quickly launch the outreach and tele-consultation Chinese medicine services to support the Resident Care Homes for the Elderly and set up a Chinese Medicine tele-advice hotline for the general public.
She is currently an Ex-officio Member of the Committee of Research & Development of Chinese Medicine.