A pilot scheme to allow members of the universal healthcare (UC) programme to receive health services at any hospital is ready for rollout, according to Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew.
The scheme is aimed at enhancing the delivery of health services. UC members may go to any hospital to seek services for which they are eligible, but the programme likely will be implemented first in a few health zones capable of handling such a task.
A health zone is a cluster of provinces, and there are a total of 13 health zones, including Bangkok, across the country.
Calling it a "quick win" to produce change within 100 days of the government's formation, Dr Cholnan, who is also leader of the ruling Pheu Thai Party, said the scheme will be implemented in two or three health zones determined by the health permanent secretary, pending an announcement to implement the full programme.
"We'll monitor and evaluate [the progress of the programme]," he said. "We'll address the problems before the scheme is adopted nationwide.
"People can receive medical care at any hospital by using only their identification card," he added.
UC members can seek any medical care or treatment covered by their UC scheme, he said. A committee will be set up to study health coverage provisions by other healthcare schemes to address complaints of unequal access to health services, he said.
He said the country's health service provision systems will be digitised to make access more convenient and reduce overcrowding at hospitals.
A source at the Public Health Ministry said the scheme is likely to be launched at the 8th health zone, which comprises Udon Thani, Sakon Nakhon, Nakhon Phanom, Loei, Nong Khai, Nong Bua Lamphu and Bung Kan provinces.
There are 88 hospitals supervised by the ministry in this zone. It is reported that health records have been moved to a cloud-based system and the National Health Security Office has put in place a funds disbursement system.
Dr Cholnan said the ministry will also speed up the free cervical cancer vaccination programme targeting girls aged 11–20 to prevent risks after findings show that more than 6,000 women in the country are diagnosed with the disease every year, with 2,000 annual deaths.
The ministry plans to provide at least 1 million doses within the 100-day period, he said, adding it targets girls in and outside the education system.