Briefing: China’s third-party nurse apps may pose safety risks for users

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多款“网约护士”App服务价格动辄数百元 安全问题引人担忧 – China National Radio

What happened: After surveying private apps that provide at-home nursing services, China National Radio concluded that many are expensive and may pose safety risks. While convenient compared to service at public hospitals, app-based services such as injections are much pricier. In addition, the vetting process for nurses can be uneven. An app called “Gold Medal Nurse” (our translation), for instance, doesn’t display the hospitals where nurses work, or what kind of qualifications and licenses they hold. In addition, according to self-reported information, many of the app’s nurses have less than five years of experience. By contrast, a work plan released by China’s National Health Commission on Feb. 12 creating pilot zones for online nursing services required practitioners to have five or more years of work experience.

Why it’s important: In addition to posing health risks to users, the apps also make health practitioners more vulnerable to legal issues that may arise. However, such apps may have staying power due to their convenience and personalized care, two qualities which aren’t always addressed by the public health system. While hospitals now offer registration and payment services through WeChat and Alipay, users may still face lengthy waits and brusque service. For nurses, they also provide an additional source of revenue in a typically low-wage field. While nurse apps will probably persist, as the National Health Commission’s recent work plan shows, more official regulation may also be introduced in order to standardize service and safeguard users.