The National Health Commission has pledged to regulate apps that connect those in need of home care with nurses after reports of management loopholes, Beijing News reported on Thursday.
The app enables nurses to serve patients at their homes and offers more affordable treatment than hospitals, ranging from injections, IVs, and drawing blood to special care like newborn exams.
The new services are seen as a boon to both China's ageing population and those with chronic diseases as well as the country's often underpaid healthcare workers.
However, the newspaper reported that some apps have been very lax in patient registration, demanding no rigorous ID verification or accurate information of prescribed drugs. This may lead to potential risks to nurses who perform on-site services at homes, said the report.
The platform said registered nurses need at least three years of work experience and must provide the relevant qualification certificate in registration. The platform will also provide patients with “accident insurance” when they use the home-visiting nurse service.
An official with the National Health Commission said the Uber-like apps make it easier for elderly people or those with mobility difficulties to receive medical care at home. As a pilot initiative, reforms have been carried out in Beijing, Tianjin and Guangdong Province to allow nurses to better meet the new health requirements.
The commission will gradually improve the management of nurses, make full use of the Internet, and regulate the shared nurse system, said the official.
Li Fang, a nurse with 13 years’ work experience, quit her formal job to become a full-time nurse using the app. Although a job in the hospital is more stable, she prefers to be flexible with the platform.
Li said, in the standard procedure, users need to upload photos of prescriptions and drugs when placing an order, and home-visiting nurses also need to communicate with patients in person to ensure the service goes well.
Beijing is increasingly allowing nurses to engage in homecare services through apps provided they have registered with authorities, but the major concerns are how to maintain service supervision and deal with medical disputes, said an official with Beijing Health Commission.