In a time when geopolitical relations are strained, one company out of Kansas is looking to form a collaboration between US and Chinese doctors for better healthcare services.

I’ve talked about the need for regional innovation hubs.  But sometimes, there’s a need to combine knowledge to bring about new ideas.  For example, Chinese and Western medicine.  As China’s population exploded, so did its healthcare needs.  The US is facing similar strains.  So, the question is, can companies from both countries come together for better healthcare solutions?  That’s the idea behind Kansas-based PreferUS.

I’m an investor in PreferUS and I recently went to China with them to observe first-hand how they’re joining forces with Chinese healthcare professionals and hospitals to create an entirely different approach to hospital services, management and physician training.

PreferUS has deep expertise on the Chinese healthcare market.  After spending years working in China, founder Michael Franz developed an understanding of the Chinese culture and the struggles the government faced to serve over a billion people with adequate healthcare.  As public hospitals strained under the needs of a growing population, a private healthcare market emerged.  Franz saw the opportunity to help private Chinese institutions accelerate their medical training in fields like cardiology, orthopedics, spine, total joint care and sports medicine.  In addition, as China builds more hospitals to serve its large population, experts in hospital management are also needed.

PreferUS partnered with Cedars Sinai, Oklahoma Heart Hospital, Texas Back Institute, and Kerlan-Jobe Institute to create a training program for doctors, nurses and administrators.  Chinese doctors travel to Kansas to immerse themselves in English, specifically medical terms in English for two months. Then they spend four more months training on the latest techniques in cardiology, orthopedics and sports medicine.  PreferUS’s training program is helping speed up readiness at Chinses hospitals and better serve patients.  In fact, working with Kerlan-Jobe inspired PreferUS and its partner hospital in China to open the very first comprehensive sports medicine institute in a Shanghai public hospital.  Sports medicine is in growing demand in China, so PreferUS worked with its newly trained Chinese doctors to make it a specialty of the local public hospital.

We talk about globalization, sometimes as a bad word as it can threaten jobs and wages.  But this is globalization in a good way.  If we can tap into the expertise of one group of people to make life better for another, that is a good thing.

Franz and his team are seeding the re-invention of the public and private health industry for the Chinese market, while holding true to Chinese values and cultures. Working with investors and hospital partners in China, PreferUS’s services were so well-received that they were eventually asked to manage hospitals across the region.

At the same time, US doctors get a fresh and new perspective from their Chinese colleagues and the chance to practice healthcare in a completely different environment.

The sharing economy has been linked to sharing possessions, like cars and houses.  But the sharing economy can also be about sharing knowledge that improves lives. Cooperation between businesses in various countries, even with their political counterparts have strained relations, are key to gaining understanding, innovation and dare I say, peace among nations. I look forward to my next trip to China to see what this expanding relationship between US and Chinese healthcare professionals can achieve.

For you readers, think about how you can create a collaboration with counterparts in unexpected parts of the world to better improve your services, thinking, products and customer experiences. Looking under a new rock may be the key to a competitive edge.

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