Paying a visit to the doctor is nobody’s idea of fun. But, when combined with the stress of language and cultural barriers, seeking medical care in China can be downright terrifying for some expats. The good news is that there are a number of international medical centers in Shanghai, as well as some excellent “VIP clinics” that cater specifically to foreigners, and are housed within large public hospitals.

Finding a hospital or medical center with the international standards that you’re used to is important – not just for the doctors’ expertise, safety levels, and hygiene standards, but also for your own peace of mind. After all, seeing a doctor is as much a physical as a psychological experience.

Arm yourself with information about what to look for in a medical center and do your research in advance. You may have the luxury of time when making an appointment for an annual checkup or physical examination, but if you suddenly become unwell, finding a reputable hospital or healthcare center isn’t something you want to worry about.

Here are a few things to look for that will help you to determine whether a hospital or medical center offers world-class healthcare.

English-speaking reception staff

Hospitals or clinics that cater to the foreign market employ well-trained English-speaking staff, so that when you first make an appointment or enquiry by phone, you can do so in English. When you arrive, you’ll be greeted in your own language before meeting your English-speaking (and often Western-trained) doctor. Afterwards, you’ll have the convenience of settling your payment in English.

Professional, English-speaking doctors

The doctors who practice in a hospital’s VIP clinic or a department catering to foreigners will necessarily speak good English. Many have qualifications from abroad, and are certified by international boards such as the American Academy of Ophthalmology. You should feel free to ask about qualifications and experience before booking an appointment, or do some background reading on their English website.

Cultural sensitivity

Doctors who diagnose and treat foreign patients require a certain degree of cultural sensitivity, and most international clinics and hospitals have taken care of this expectation. If you’ve ever been to a regular Chinese hospital, you’ll know that doctors’ bedside manner can be quite different to what you’re used to. International hospitals and clinics always aim to meet foreign patients’ expectation for privacy and personalized care.


International hospitals in Shanghai generally resemble their counterparts in Europe or the US, with state-of-the-art equipment and modern furnishings. Remember, there are several VIP medical centers, clinics and international hospitals in Shanghai to choose from, so don’t settle for sub-par facilities, poor hygiene standards, or anything less than the best medical equipment.


A little bit of helpfulness goes a long way when you’re in a foreign country. If an international medical center or hospital’s staff isn’t willing to respond to an enquiry or answer your questions before you’ve made an appointment, it’s a sign to keep looking until you find one that is.

New Vision Eye Clinic provides personalized eye care by leading ophthalmologists and eye doctors at three specialist clinics in Shanghai. Visit our surgical center in downtown Shanghai to discuss your eye care concerns with an English-speaking expert, or contact us by phone, email, or enquiry formWe look forward to helping you take the first step towards enhancing your vision. 

If you need more practical information about direct billing or finding a doctor for your children, please see: International hospitals and clinics in Shanghai that cater to expatriates