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‘Internet plus nursing’ program off to a good start, with a long way to go

By Sheng Chuyi (People's Daily Online)    08:28, March 29, 2019

Suffering from a knee injury and unable to get to the hospital? Just download the home nursing services app onto your smartphone, register and authenticate your identity, upload your current prescriptions and medical record, then simply order from a range of care services.

(Photo/People’s Daily Overseas Edition)

In the last few years, with some app developers noticing the demand for home nursing in China and targeting the service booking app market, a variety of apps focused on care services have sprung up. Using these apps, users can book services such as injections, transfusions, blood sampling, dressing changes, urinary catheterization, and removal of stitches. Nevertheless, the growing market also spells a series of safety risks and related regulatory issues.

On Feb. 12, the National Health Commission (NHC) of China issued a notice to local health authorities, announcing that China is piloting an "Internet plus nursing" program. Running from February till December this year, the NHC aims to test the management system, service patterns, service specifications and operation mechanism for ‘Internet plus nursing’ to suit the country’s status quo. Six provincial-level regions in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Guangdong have been selected as the program's pilot regions.

This signals that after being propelled by social force for the last two years, home healthcare services, provided by clinical nurses, have now been recognized at a state level. Meanwhile, more binding norms and stricter regulations will be implemented in the coming year.

Internet Plus fosters the healthcare industry

First unveiled by Premier Li Keqiang in March 2015 when delivering the government work report, the Internet Plus concept was widely considered the application of Internet platforms in traditional industries. In fact, just like online dating, online food delivery and online car-hailing, this mode of consumption was already a part of Chinese people’s life before 2015.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, as of the end of 2017, China's population aged 60 or above reached 240 million, accounting for 17.3 percent of China's total population. Moreover, the number of senior citizens with chronic diseases reached 150 million, accounting for 65 percent of the entire senior population. With the increasing number of elderly citizens and empty nesters, the demand for in-home nursing care has surged.

Meanwhile, statistics from the same year published by the NHC showed that China had more than 3.8 million nurses, nearly 800,000 of whom were working in primary care. The nurse to doctor ratio reached 1.1, reversing the situation of more doctors than nurses.

“Confronted with the huge demand for care among seniors, there are still quite a lot of deficiencies in the country’s nursing personnel. Besides, continuing to support nursing talent development and supply, we do hope to motivate the initiative of nurses and empower them to be more productive by means of Internet Plus,” Jiao Yahui, an NHC official, told People’s Daily Overseas Edition.

As another instance of Internet Plus, seeing a doctor online is much easier than before with various service mode options. On your smartphone app, voice emergency treatment connects you with doctors from Level III Class A hospitals in China within 60 seconds; a dermatologist can diagnose your skin problems after you upload a photo of your face. Nevertheless, in-person care is still a necessity for many ailments.


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(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Sheng Chuyi, Liang Jun)

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