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COVER STORY: Personalised Care And Best Practice. Dr. Joseph Shumway, Chief Medical Officer, Tianjin United Family Hospital
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Personalised Care And Best Practice

Dr. Joseph Shumway
Chief Medical Officer
Tianjin United Family Hospital

BT 201912 340X458Tianjin United Family Hospital is a leading medical facility, integrating excellent and safe healthcare under one trusted United Family Health brand. It incorporates a dedicated and credentialed team of medical staff in the mission of providing the best care to their valued patients. One can expect personalized attention and quality healthcare by highly competent and skilled medical professionals, but we also can find passionate people performing their daily work in a perfect harmony.

We have interacted with Dr. Joseph Shumway, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at Tianjin United Family Hospital (TJU), an American with an impressive career as a medical doctor. He received his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University and his medical degree from Columbia University (NY), which was one of the top five medical universities in America at the time. He has worked in the best medical centers such as Columbia, UCLA, and Johns Hopkins. He also came to China 30 years ago to work for the World Health Organization (WHO) at PKU, Beijing.

cover storyCould you please elaborate on your work with the World Health Organization?

I was offered opportunities at PKU and had a professor, who was the president of WHO at the time. I had two PKU projects sponsored by the WHO. One was related to a specialised female cancer called gestational trophoblastic disease. PKU had the largest clinic and hospital in the world related to that disease.

The second PKU project was to set up the first mammography breast cancer screening program for China. The mammography project successfully launched in Beijing. It then went nationwide. It was one of the highest pinnacles that I have achieved in my medical career.

Successfully launching that cancer-screening, public health project in a country as large as China changed the scope of healthcare for an entire nation. I cannot say that was the only great opportunity life has offered me, but to be 29 years old and have that opportunity opened up to me by the WHO and PKU was incredible.

Among many countries you have worked in, what captivated your attention to China, henceforth to choose to work at Tianjin United Family Hospital?

My Icelandic wife is Chinese at heart. As a young woman, she had a fervent desire to go to China and meet the people. My wife has been supportive and always said, “I am all in,” when it was time to go do things that were novel and innovative. I am grateful to China and the opportunities it has provided for us.

AVA 2813As you observe the trends in the healthcare industry, how do you manage the medical part of the hospital to meet the expectations of patients?

We treat expats and many Chinese patients who have lived overseas. These patients expect delivery of a high level of personalized healthcare. Our care mirrors standards that exist in Europe and America. My foremost goal is to make sure those high expectations are met at all levels.

When we engage with Chinese patients who have received their prior health care in the public hospitals, we introduce them to a system that does not rush them, takes time to listen to them, and fully explains their options about procedures and treatments.

Furthermore, as a doctor acting as a steward for the patient, it is critical that I value the patient's pocketbook and deliver cost efficient care. It is respectful for me to not waste my patients’ time. As the Chief Medical Officer, I work to ensure my doctors are fully focused on the patient by providing the best technology to assist them. These are all health care delivery enhancements that will make patients and doctors happier. The care given will be safer, more reliable - representing a desirable aim for our medical culture at Tianjin United.

Please tell us what your typical day or work week looks like.

From Monday through Friday, I have two patient care days-one day in the operating room and the other is the OB/GYN clinics. I am grateful that my clinic is bursting at the seams because on these days I go home fully energized. On Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, after having done my clinical work, my batteries are fully charged. I then tackle the duties of dealing with the daily tasks at the hospital involving finances, professional encouragement, and mentorship. Beyond my local Tianjin role, I also have other responsibilities that Beijing gives me to help them with clinical protocols and patient care standards.

AVA 2614 takeout reflection in the wall and the red signWhat does your role as the Chief Medical Officer at Tianjin United Family Healthcare entail?

My primary responsibility is health and safety, to make sure my staff works in a responsible and professional way. In that journey, I walk hand-in-hand with my chief nursing officer. There is very limited hierarchy in my facility. We have horizontal leadership of peer to peer relationships. My nurses are my peers, and we are totally professional in our work as a team. In this role I have to “walk the walk.” For example, I have to demonstrate the care, communications and exemplify the medical culture that I am talking about. I cannot ask people to do anything that I am not willing to do myself.

Last night I stayed here late with a patient who had a severe psychological issue. I waited until the family was gone to hold a private conversation. I am not the psychiatrist, but I sat down and talked to him for about an hour. That is what human beings do for each other.

As a recipient of the ‘gold seal of approval’ accreditation from the JCI (Joint Commission International), what are the commitment values of United Family Healthcare (UFH) to their patients?

JCI is the crown jewel. It is a comprehensive review that looks at facilities, governance, patient flow, nursing accountability, and doctor standards. UFH got their first accreditation in 2001 in Beijing. Tianjin was accredited in 2014 and again in 2017. We are aiming for a JCI system-wide license of all of our United Family Hospitals at the end of 2020. We plan on being the first hospital system in China to receive a multi-facility JCI accreditation.

AVA 2713What inspired you to choose this noble profession and what remarkable lessons have you learned along the way?

I care about people, and as a child, I was free to find a career path that I wanted. I choose this particular medical path because I wanted to work in a specialty that was happy. I always thought that once I had done my 1000th delivery, somehow this work would become monotonous. However, the magic and wonder of medicine has never worn off. I am just as interested now after 23,000 births, 8000 C-sections as I was 30 years ago. Every patient has a different story - a unique journey.

I met a diabetic patient yesterday whom I cared deeply about who has had many complications. We got her diabetes taken care of, and she delivered her baby at term, which gave me tears of joy. That was such an amazing, remarkable event. That birth and every birth is special to me.

What makes care at Tianjin United Family Hospital different and unique to other medical service providers in the country?

We take the time to see our patients and to understand their concerns. We believe in providing personalized care and in following the best practice guidelines in delivering clinical care. Our hospital system founder Roberta Lipson often talks about “sharing the love” of United Family Healthcare. In this UFH family, there is a component of love, the love of humanness, compassion and empathy for each other and our patients. Not rushing the medical conversation and fully engaging our patients as a fully informed partner are critical components of what we do at Tianjin UFH.

AVA 2663How do you ensure quality and safe care for your patients?

We offer personalised care with various health packages so people know what they are receiving. Frankly, I would love it if every hospital in China came and spent a day with us. We are a lighthouse of the idea that “My patient is valuable and I will listen to them.” UFH has been doing this for 22 years. They understand the power of “patient centered care”. When we listen to our patients, we just keep getting better.

What elements of healthcare does Tianjin United Family Hospital incorporate to provide excellent care to their patients?

We are dynamic, nimble, and willing to change. Since I have been here, I proposed a change to make medical records more orderly. After talking to my leadership in Beijing, we did our two-week test pilot, and it was successful. Two weeks later, it was implemented to all seven hospitals in the UFH hospital system. That’s nimble! To make a system-wide change that has to do with an electronic medical record system in four weeks is extraordinary. I am not certain that even in America they would make such rapid changes. I am honored to be in an organization like UFH that has a priority for implementing patient care improvements so rapidly.

AVA 2684What modalities of basic care can patients expect from Tianjin United Family Hospital?

Some of our hospitals have IVF fertility services, and others have special imaging capabilities and specialty services, like ENT and orthopedics. Any patient that shows up at any of our facilities can count on our doctors to adhere to the best practices which mirror international standards. We deliver healthcare that meets or exceeds many highly regarded hospitals in America and Europe. Excellence is our passion and a core value of UFH.

For prospective patients interested in seeking medical care, how do you describe the patient centred care aspect of Tianjin United Family Healthcare?

It is one of my greatest commitments in over three decades of practicing medicine. The doctor-patient relationship is the center of our core values. At every patient visit, there is a full exploration of any clinical problems. Enough time is reserved to allow the doctor to use his medical expertise to organize the care and to solve the patient’s problem. A doctor is best able to reach the correct diagnosis after a careful patient conversation. This tailored approach provides efficient, cost effective care to a well educated patient. To me, that is what patient-centered care is all about.

AVA 2705What is Tianjin United Family Hospital doing about the remote healthcare treatment and assistance?

United Family Foundation is the charitable arm related to United Family Healthcare. Our charitable foundation recently completed a big medical mission relief to inner Mongolia. They treated thousands of patients and left materials and supplies to allow that care to continue. There are similar missions annually where we serve directly with the goal to increase the future capacity of underserved rural areas. Where it is permissible, I am eager to find ways to provide more charitable services to the community.

What is the most challenging part of being the Chief Medical Officer of Tianjin United Family Healthcare?

We are growing so rapidly and constantly that we are always on the lookout for new doctors and staff. We are seeking health care providers who want to be innovative and emulate the future of “patient centered care.” Finding and recruiting the best medical talent that China has is my biggest challenge. I am always on the lookout for great nursing and physician candidates to join our United Family Healthcare team.

Having been a celebrated personality while performing a role as a starring doctor in the reality TV show, the Farrel Quintuplet story in 2008, to having delivered 23,000 new-borns to date, what is it that keeps you humble and grounded?

Medicine teaches you every day that you are not perfect. Most of the things I have achieved have just been realized through grit and hard work. I am grateful to my parents and to many professors that gave me opportunities. I am quite humble about this. Why? If I am standing 100 meters high, 98 meters of that height are from me standing on the shoulders of my mentors and teachers. I have no credit to claim for myself other than that I have been willing to work and learn.

I have good health and I am eager for the next 10 years of work in China. I anticipate that will be a remarkable journey for my patients and for United Family Healthcare.

AVA 2829When at work, what is it that makes you happy and grateful?

My patients energize me, and the human connections that medicine offers me give me great insights, perspectives, and cherished experiences. I am filled with gratitude and appreciation of how blessed my life is.

How are you enjoying the sights and sounds of Tianjin so far?

Tianjin is a city of rich history. Its citizens love it and want it to be beautiful for their children. I enjoy walking by the river and watching people swim. My wife, Maryan, loves striking up conversations with people, such as fisherman, dancers in the park, or merchants in the markets. The people of Tianjin are welcoming and friendly. I am very grateful to be in Tianjin.

It was a pleasure to have an in-depth conversation with Dr. Joseph Shumway and learn in firsthand from his professionalism and passion for his work, and the great facilities that United Family Healthcare has in Tianjin.



Dr. Joseph Shumway


天津和睦家医院是一家领先的综合性医疗机构,秉承国际标准,追求卓越医疗,处处以人为本。医疗总监(CMO)申威(Joseph Shumway)医生,1983年以优等的成绩毕业于美国杨百翰大学并获得学士学位;1987年在哥伦比亚大学获得公共卫生硕士学位;1988年在纽约哥伦比亚大学内科和外科医学院获得医学和外科博士学位;1989-1993年在加州大学洛杉矶分校(UCLA)完成了妇产科住院医师培训;1993-1995年在马里兰州巴尔的摩市的约翰霍普金斯医学院完成了母胎医学专业的进修,申威医生早在30年前就曾到访中国,参与位于北京大学的世界卫生组织(WHO)的公共卫生项目,这段经历给他留下了终生难忘的深刻印象。申威医生从事妇产科工作超过30年,目前已经接生了23000多名新生儿,包括1500多对双胞胎,300多三胞胎或四胞胎以上的婴儿,他亲自进行了8000多例剖宫产手术。申威医生共发表超过500篇关于妇产科的文章、章节和同行评审的科研论文。他在学术和临床医学方面享有国际声誉,并在世界各地广泛演讲。工作之外他喜欢徒步旅行、游泳、阅读、雕塑、旅游和与家人在一起。



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