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Changes in the healthcare industry

By Peng Yining  (China Daily)

14:18, April 09, 2013

Private healthcare is becoming an increasingly popular way for Chinese people to receive medical care. In addition to hiring healthcare workers, more people, mostly in urban areas, are willing to pay for a professional nursing service which provides safe, convenient and professional medical care, but at a higher price.

Zhang Xiaofan, a 33-year-old Beijing resident, gave birth to her daughter three months ago. Instead of hiring a yuesao, or postpartum care worker, she spent nearly 10,000 yuan ($1,600) on the United Family Home Health's postpartum service, which includes four visits from a midwife and two from a doctor within the first two weeks after being discharged from hospital.

"I never considered hiring a yuesao. They are not well trained or even well educated," she said. "They might have children or have taken care of many newborn babies, but their experience could be wrong."

Zhang said some Chinese healthcare traditions, such as shaving the baby's head one month after birth, are unscientific. "In China, it symbolises a new start and the baby will grow better hair after being shaved," she said. "But actually it could cause infection."

Zhang said a professional obstetrician wouldn't recommend the practice. "The doctors and nurses are professional, patient and polite," she said. "Their services are worth the money."

Wang Hai, project leader at Peking Union Medical College Hospital, said more people are asking for professional healthcare services. "Most people care more about whether the nursing workers are qualified, not just the price," he said.

To cater for the increasing demand, the hospital started a training program for nursing assistants, according to Wang, giving the workers 30 days of training and sending them for clinical practice.

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