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Seminars and social media: improving wound care throughout China

Hospitals and doctors can be few and far between in the vast Chinese countryside and the quality of medical attention inconsistent from hospital to hospital. A training program aims to change that by educating health workers about effective wound care.

Hospitals and doctors can be few and far between in the vast Chinese countryside and the quality of medical attention inconsistent from hospital to hospital. This is a particular problem for patients with wounds that require precise treatment and diligent care. Even professionals in urban medical centers experience gaps in their wound care expertise. A training program aims to change that by educating health workers about effective wound care.

Huo Jizhen treating a patient’s wound together with a doctor.
Huo Jizhen (on the right) treating a patient in the hospital.

Bringing wound care up to speed

China has been undergoing a rapid course of modernization and urbanization in recent years. However, many Chinese citizens, particularly in rural and suburban regions, still do not have access to modern health services. This especially affects the treatment of wounds, whether they be incisions, lacerations or abrasions. If not treated right initially, wounds can become chronic and take years to heal. Patients often don’t receive thorough follow-up care, as the nearest medical treatment center may be far away, or the healthcare professionals have gaps in their wound care knowledge. HARTMANN is helping improve wound care by training so-called ‘wound experts’ who then bring more effective treatment to patients – no matter where they live.

Room from improvement

In many regions in China, access to state-of-the-art healthcare is far from a given, particularly when it comes to receiving effective wound treatment. "In Chinese medical centers, there are three areas where there is room for improvement when it comes to wound care", says Linda Li, Senior Professional Education and Project Manager with HARTMANN's marketing department in China. “A lack of professional physicians and nurses, a modern wound care concept, and a lack of practical wound treatment skills."

HARTMANN has been addressing the topic of wound care in Chinese healthcare centers with the help of special training seminars devised by the German non-profit Initiative for Chronic Wounds (ICW). Since 2010, a total of four schools have been set up where doctors, nurses and other health workers from across China can qualify as certified ‘wound experts.’ A fifth institution opened in June 2018.


A female and male nurse working with a tablet.

Incisive insight into wound care

The ICW seminars fully educate participants about all aspects of wound care. Interactive seminars address in detail the proper assessment and documentation of wounds and the appropriate selection and application of dressings. Participants also learn how to correctly clean and rinse wounds and how infections can be prevented and managed.

Another important area covered is the prevention and treatment of chronic wounds such as ulcus cruris, diabetic foot syndrome or decubitus. These conditions heal slowly if at all and can cause patients physical and often also psychological discomfort. Participants are also taught about skin care, hygiene, pain, nutrition and ways of communicating with patients. "In addition to the theoretical knowledge, the students learn basic practical skills to help them start their ‘wound expert’ careers", says Linda Li.

To date, 35 ‘wound expert’ seminars have been held in the five schools set up with the help of HARTMANN and more than 600 medical professionals have received their certificates. "They now work in different hospitals and health communities across China, contributing greatly to addressing the three main areas for improvement", says Linda Li.

Empowering new wound care experts

One graduate, Wang Guangyang, has been working as a nurse at First People’s Hospital of Honghe State for 31 years. In spite of her vast experience, Wang says that the seminar has helped her expand her expertise: "The systematic theoretical knowledge and the standardized technical operations of the ICW help me a great deal in my daily work", she explains. Wang’s hospital is located in the southern mountain city of Mengzi which is difficult to reach and where the medical instruments and equipment often aren’t as good as in the bigger cities. The trainings, she says, have led to a rapid improvement of wound care at her hospital, in turn increasing significantly the number of wound patients treated. Both diagnosis and treatment are now much more differentiated, and more time is being dedicated to see wound patients.


Huo Jizhen taking photos of a patient’s wound.
Huo Jizhen’s daily work also includes recording the patient’s healing process.

Huo Jizhen has been working as a nurse in the city of Weifang in the central province of Shandon for 15 years, where she regularly treats patients from the surrounding rural areas. "In the past, we didn't know about modern wound care, so we didn't actively intervene in chronic wounds, for example by effectively managing exudates", she says. Now, after learning about the advantages of moist healing methods in comparison with dry healing in the seminar, Huo can promote and establish the new approach at her place of work. Today, Huo is responsible for all wound care at her hospital.

Spreading the word on wound care

Huo shares her knowledge with the help of mobile messaging services such as WeChat. She set up a group chat for around 80 of her colleagues: "It makes it easier for me to guide them because they can ask me about the treatment and dressing of wounds using texts, pictures or voice messages."

Social media also helps the qualified ‘wound expert’ to stay in touch after they have completed their seminars. The ICW Club group chat currently has almost 500 members. "It consists of professional ‘wound experts’ from national, provincial, state and local hospitals and it is very powerful", says Wang Guangyang from Mengzi. "We can exchange ideas with other members, give lessons, and perform group consultations", she explains. It's even possible for the participants to contact their former ICW lecturers and to ask them for help using voice messages, images and video. For Wang, it’s the perfect addition to her job: “The patients’ recovery is my happiness, and perfect technology has been my lifelong pursuit.”

2018 marks HARTMANN’s 200-year anniversary.

To commemorate this milestone, we have put together this series of articles. In it we show how our employees and partners contribute to advancing healthcare, as well as discussing trends and issues that affect the healthcare systems we serve.