Consistent with its position as a leading healthcare provider, the University Health Network (UHN) has been reflecting on the impact of increasing globalization on hospitals. The goals of the UHN paper on globalization are threefold - to suggest how the external and internal environments of hospitals will change as a result of globalization; to suggest a role for hospitals in a globalized world; and to stimulate discussion and debate.
Given our perspective, from the other side of the world, we are pleased to contribute to the discussion and debate but will limit our comments to the future role of teaching and research hospitals based on some of the experiences of Australia and Hong Kong.
The citizens of Hong Kong have been acutely aware of the issue of globalization - the excellent deep-water harbour has ensured the position of Hong Kong as a major trading hub. Hong Kong has also had a continually evolving role as a financial centre and gateway to China, and with China's accession to the World Trade Organization the impact of globalization will be even greater. On the other hand, the citizens of Australia have lived with geographic isolation, relatively limited natural resources and a small population, all of which have limited their role in global trade and financial markets. However, both Hong Kong and Australia have seen recent benefits from the increasing speed of communication and information transfer and exchange. While it may still take close to a month for Australian practitioners to receive the hard copy of the journal in the mail, a electronic transfer is instantaneous. The globalization of knowledge and practice is one of the largest impacts of the Internet. With one of the most connected populations in the world, Hong Kong is very active in the sharing of knowledge with international experts.
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