On 9 January 2023, after nearly 13 years of applying the Law on Medical Examination and Treatment No. 40/2009/QH12, the National Assembly issued the Law on Medical Examination and Treatment No. 15/2023/QH15 (New Law). This New Law will take effect on 1 January 2024.
With 12 chapters and 121 articles (an increase of 3 chapters and 30 articles compared to the Current Law), the New Law has taken patients as the centre for all activities of providing medical examination and treatment services. It enhances the socialisation and diversification of health services while addressing issues encountered under the Current Law, thereby developing and improving the quality of health services.
In this update, we will discuss some notable new points applicable to medical examination and treatment establishments (Medical Establishments) and medical practitioners (Medical Practitioners).
Key regulations include self-assessment of the Medical Establishments, requirements on information technology, socialisation of medical examination and treatment activities, and telemedicine.
a. To improve the service quality of the Medical Establishments, the New Law mandates annual self-assessment of medical examination and treatment operations according to standards issued or recognised by the Ministry of Health (MoH). The Medical Establishments. Medical Establishments must also publish the results of the self-assessment at their locations and on the Information System (as defined below).
b. To progressively integrate medical outcomes across facilities, enhance the patient experience, and develop effective management of healthcare delivery, the New Law mandates information technology implementation within the Medical Establishments. Specifically, the Medical Establishments must satisfy key requirements as follows:
They must possess infrastructure proportionate to the respective scope of professional services and facility scale. Information technology networks must integrate into the MoH's information system for overseeing medical examination and treatment. (Information System);
Conditions for information security, privacy, and national database linkage must be met; and
The Medical Establishments are accountable for promptly providing the Information System with complete, accurate information enabling the development of solutions to guide practice.
c. The Medical Establishments submitting an application for an operational license on or after 1 January 2027 must comply with regulations at the time of registration. Those possessing licenses before this date have until 1 January 2029 to achieve the standard. One of the advancements in the socialisation of medical examination and treatment activities is to allow the Medical Establishments to rent and lease properties and services such as clinical services, paraclinical services, non-medical services, pharmacy services, management, and operation services.
d. To facilitate patients’ access to quality, cost-effective health services anytime and anywhere, the New Law now officially regulates remote medical examination and treatment and the relevant supporting activities among the Medical Establishment. Regulating telemedicine and supporting functions across the Medical Establishments enables care for non-emergency illnesses, management of chronic conditions, and regular monitoring of ongoing health issues regardless of physical proximity to facilities or physicians. It also enhances the support and cooperation among the Medical Establishments in their medical examination and treatment activities.
Key regulations include languages that can be used by foreign practitioners, expansion of the scope of practice, change of procedure for issuance of practising licenses, and validity period of practising licenses.
The New Law establishes requirements enhancing the quality, accessibility, and cultural sensitivity of care provided by foreign Medical Practitioners in Vietnam. Whereas the Current Law mandates registration of language(s) used and provision of interpreters, the New Law stipulates that foreign physicians must fluently speak Vietnamese when examining or treating Vietnamese patients. Only those sharing a common language with the practitioner can opt to receive care in that tongue. The application of this new regulation will commence on 1 January 2032.
Furthermore, the New Law expands the scope of authorised medical practice by transitioning licensure from professional qualifications to professional titles. This includes physicians, nurses, midwives, medical technicians, clinical nutritionists, paramedics, psychologists, and more. The New Law also transitions medical licensing from reviewing credentials alone to evaluating competency through testing and assessing practice ability before authorising providers. Of note, the commencement date for application of this new procedure varies subject to each professional title.
Finally, the New Law re-designates authorised credentials from 'practicing certificates' to 'practicing licenses' to strengthen management, oversight, and standards of practice. While license content remains largely unchanged from certificates, validity periods now extend five years rather than being permanent. The Medical Practitioners must apply for renewal every five years rather than maintaining credentials indefinitely. Practicing certificates issued before 2024 will convert to five-year licenses on the timeline established by government roadmaps.
This transition represents a strategic shift to judicious, evidence-based management of authorized medical practice. Rather than open-ended approval, licensing boards will review practitioners' performance, compliance standards, health outcomes, continuing education, and other indicators every five years to determine if five more years of practice are warranted.
The regulations established under the New Law generally outline strategic priorities, objectives, and management approaches, but further guidance is required to operationalise provisions. The guiding documents are being drafted as assigned under Decision No. 172/QD-TTg dated 3 March 2023.
For more information, please contact:
Phuong Huynh/ Senior Associate
Ly Nguyen / Associate