Mr. Lu from Xi’an quit his job in April 2020 to become a professional outpatient assistance personnel. But Lu said his new job is more than helping patients register and queue up at the hospital.
With a rapidly aging society and changing birth policies, taking care of more than one child and as many as four grandparents while working full-time is an increasingly daunting prospect. Many cannot allocate enough time for their family, or even accompany them on hospital visits. That is where the outpatient assistance services come in.
Medical examinations like MRIs often require a patient to be accompanied. For migrant workers who do not have family or close friends in the city, they can seek outpatient assistance services. Personnel also accompany and queue up for senior citizens during hospital visits.
“Not only do we need to know each hospital’s specialties, but we also familiarise ourselves with each hospital’s department structure. We utilise our professional knowledge to direct patients to most suitable hospitals, departments, and physician with the least obstacles for them,” Lu told Vista, an online news site.
“To put it in a fancy way, we act as medical guides to ease the pressure from the excess flow of people at hospitals,” said Lu who added that outpatient assistance personnel work very effectively.
But Lu and his fellow outpatient assistance personnel face competition with scalpers who resell appointment registration tickets for profit. Unlike scalpers, Lu cannot guarantee patients with appointments since he obtains the tickets through proper channels.
Assistance personnel like Lu charge regardless of whether patients can get an appointment. Lu said the blurred lines between scalpers and professionals make his job all the more difficult.
Despite current challenges, Lu expressed hope. “Once standardised, the profession will be based on established guidelines and have an optimistic future,” said Lu.