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Jan. 7, 2011 | Volume 22, No. 1

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UPMC in China

After successful expansion over the past decade into Italy, Ireland, and the United Kingdom, UPMC is preparing to make its first move into China, with a wealth of potential projects in the world’s fastest-growing major economy.

“Today we are looking at China as one of our primary targets for expansion,” says Chuck Bogosta, president of UPMC’s International and Commercial Services Division. “To be a significant global health care provider, we know that we need to have a presence in the Asian market. The biggest challenge is finding the right partners.”

To help with that delicate task, UPMC has hired Travis Tu as the new head of its representative’s office in Beijing. Mr. Tu, who spent nine years in China working for other hospital companies, says China is hungry for medical expertise and a “name-brand” partner like UPMC. “China’s growing middle-class is starving for good, clean hospitals with patient-centered care and advanced technology. That’s where UPMC comes in,” says Mr. Tu.

Born in Taiwan and educated in Singapore and the United States, Mr. Tu will be looking at opportunities throughout Asia, with a particular focus on China and South Korea. He previously helped to start two outpatient centers in China for publicly traded Parkway Health.

After less than a year of exploratory talks in China, UPMC already has a strong pipeline of potential projects, primarily in Beijing, Shanghai, and Suzhou. The majority of these opportunities are with academic
hospitals or private health care companies, says Mr. Bogosta, and include potential development of a network of cancer treatment facilities, a technologically advanced second-opinion service for pathology, and hospital management agreements. “What is surprising is that we have so many opportunities so quickly,” says Mr. Bogosta.

Although China offers excellent training for nurses and physicians, it is lacking in hospital management skills and has a need for more advanced medical and information technologies. “We think there will be a healthy exchange of knowledge that will benefit both UPMC and our potential partners in China,” says Mr. Bogosta.

Other foreign hospital chains and health insurance companies are also trying to break into this fast-growing market, where the government has committed billions of dollars to providing affordable, community-based hospitals for its citizens.

With UPMC’s entrepreneurial culture and world-class health care and technology skills, “we think we’re well-positioned to be a significant provider in China,” says Mr. Bogosta. “We also think we can make a difference in the quality of health care and the quality of life for the citizens of this amazing country. At the same time, our efforts will bring new ideas, new jobs, and new revenue that will serve our patients and communities in western Pennsylvania.”