Medical Service Sharing — Home-Delivery of Medical Consultation by Nurses

Chinese tech entrepreneurs seem to have a special affinity for sharing. From ride-sharing, bike-sharing, to room-sharing, various forms of sharing services can be found everywhere. Recently, medical service sharing became a possibility for patients who have trouble commuting to hospitals to receive health care.

It sounds like a great plan. Instead of wasting away in the hospital waiting room, patients can make online appointments to have nurses or other medical professionals come to their homes. While the Internet services may not be able to fulfill all the patients’ needs, it is nevertheless a convenient option for those in need of medical attention.

With a total population of 1.4 billion, China has more than 240 million seniors who are 60 years old or above, and 160 million of them are at the age of 65 or older. In addition, there are 40 million seniors who suffer from full or partial disabilities due to their ages. Services as such may be a huge benefit for those who are no longer able to make the trip to the hospitals.

However, medical service sharing is far from perfect. There are apparent issues involving the qualifications of the nurses on the platforms, legal issues on providing medical services, and potential privacy breaches. Yet, the largest problem of the internet service is, to the surprise of many, a shortage in the number of qualified registered nurses.

By the end of 2017, there were 3.8 million registered nurses in China. However, for a country with a total population of 1.4 billion, 3.8 million becomes a rather small number. Comparing the number of registered nurses per capita with developed countries, China scores pretty low due to its large population, and the lack of attractiveness of the nursing jobs. Nursing, similar to other professions in the medical industry, requires long work hours, the work tasks can be mentally and physically draining (even traumatizing), and sadly in China, and receive an unimpressive paycheck.

Similar to the doctors’ predicaments in China, nurses are also frequently becoming victims of violence related to medical disputes. In addition, the irregularity of jobs and the intense work pressure are discouraging many young professionals to pursue a nursing career.

The wage gap between Chinese and western medical professionals are significant. Doctors are usually considered the top career choices for individuals in developed countries in the west. However, practicing medicine in China does not seem to be as attractive as it is in developed economies. The same struggle applies to nurse as well. And it is the fundamental struggle that Chinese medical practitioners have yet to solve.

It is great to have newer tools and channels that provide medical services. However, more advanced technology is not going to solve the issues of staff shortages in nursing. While it is a legitimate request to ask for stringent vetting processes for nurses available on the platforms, the lack of supplies and qualified individuals will make these services a luxury for the small number of people who can afford the expensive fees.

Instead of investing in a share-economy bubble, it would be more beneficial for potential investors to put their resources directly into the medical industry. Only by having a sufficient number of medical personnel, we can ensure better services for the community.

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