On December 12, 1978 China made a groundbreaking announcement about its plans for Reform and Opening.  It was this announcement that gave me the opportunity to come to China, and gave each of us—every reader of this letter, and every member of the United Family—the opportunity to know each other, to work together, and to serve our patients and society.

The 40 intervening years of openness has shaped our opportunity and in turn, overcoming many challenges, we have helped to shape the development of healthcare in China over the same period. Over these 40 years China’s GDP has grown by a factor of 80. From a 1.75% share of world GDP, it now contributes 15%.  These 40 years have been the healthiest in China’s history, with life expectancy growing by 10 years.  The marvel of Chinese improvement in health is indeed due to government policy.  But it is also due to the contributions made daily, weekly, and monthly, year after year, of each and every one of us.

Even so, 2018 has been a very trying year. We have seen the threat of a trade war, geopolitical strife, the vaccine crisis, contraction of private enterprise, and a downturn in stock markets. This all makes us fear that perhaps “winter is coming”. But we can also hope that the spring thaw will soon follow.

Despite the slowdown, China’s economy remains resilient. The World Bank projects GDP growth at 6.5 percent in 2018 and 6.2 percent in 2019. To boost the economy, China has already begun to shift government spending toward health, education, and social protection.

United Family’s record achievements in 2018 provide the momentum which will carry us into a successful 2019. Growth and Development are the words best describing United Family’s year. The number of patients seen at our clinics increased 12% over 2018 and the in-patient days increased 8%. Most of this increase was at our existing facilities but in the second half of the year we also added the capacity of our two marvelous new hospitals—PDU and GZU—as well as a new clinic in Hangzhou.  Earlier in the year our new Bo’ao Hainan Center opened and successfully led the country in administering HPV 9 vaccines.

Advancements in technology and specialty services at BJU will serve as a model for development for our whole organization. The number of robotic surgeries alone has increased 30% over 2017- with procedures spanning urology, gynecology, breast and thyroid. After 3 years of development, BJU’s orthopedic department can do all manner of orthopedic surgeries and the hospital has opened its new stroke center.  BJU and SHU also hosted several international-level academic conferences, further raising our visibility in the Chinese academic medical community.

In Shanghai our new Pudong Hospital opened with the personal blessings of the U.S. Ambassador and many Shanghai city level dignitaries.  Since opening the Shanghai Party Secretary personally hosted all leaders of the Hainan government to show off our beautiful facility.

Despite staffing challenges, SHU gave strong support to PDU’s opening, while simultaneously preparing for our new SHU Puxi facility to open early in 2019.  The SHU team with their 15 years of experience is getting ready for its new incarnation as they prepare for a fresh start in a much larger new facility.

Guangzhou United opened with a swift ramp up in both birthing and PPR services.  But at the same time we are seeing early interest in our more acute services.  The beautiful facility and excellent team are attracting both patients and physician collaborators alike.

In the spirit of our philosophy of continuity of care, we have increased the number of PPR days by 77%, and this March saw the inception of our Youhujia specialty care which has now delivered over 22000 service days to new mothers and their infants.

In addition to pioneering our PPR services, Beijing Rehab has been helping to increase the numbers of neuro and orthopedic patients.  Together with our new partner, the International Aquatic Therapy Association (IATA) they have renovated our pool area to reach best-in-world standards.

TJU’s IVF services have fulfilled the wish of hundreds of couples struggling to conceive, with a successful pregnancy rate of 63%, significantly higher than the industry average.

QDU has increased its revenue by 64%, and was named the sole healthcare provider of Qingdao’s World Summit of Tourism Destination Cities.

Following the pioneering lead of our Beijing Satellite Clinics, our clinics in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hangzhou are fulfilling our ideal of bringing excellent clinical services to the grassroots, extending our reach to local residents. We have found acceptance and welcome in the communities we serve. In addition to partnering with our patients in prevention, diagnosis and chronic disease management, these clinics are a bridge between our customers and our in-patient facilities when further care is needed.

The development of the United Family platform and the healthy growth of our business both grow directly out of the contribution of each member of our team. The demand for healthcare is well known to be inelastic, even in years of economic slowdown. At any time, high quality healthcare services are a scarce commodity of which we are the leading supplier.

In the future, how are we to maintain our leadership? In 1992 Deng Xiaoping on his Southern tour pointed out that to gain and maintain leadership China had to follow the course of development. Continued development is also UFH’s strategy for maintaining and advancing our leadership position.

We want to continue to pursue and perfect whole life-cycle care.  This is the core of what makes us unique.

Our culture of ICARE is the essence of our ability to provide service which fills the higher needs of our customers. Our commitment to patient-centered and Multi Disciplinary Therapy (MDT) care, means each department and each clinic and hospital must work intimately together, with a single goal—to provide the best care to our patients in the most convenient, seamless and respectful way.

Safety and Efficacy are the non-negotiable policies which drive our medical development. This is why we have rolled out our “Step up to Safety” training campaign to every member of all our teams. This kind of training will continue in 2019.

Development is UFH’s strategic philosophy, and it is also our fiduciary responsibility. At the same time we will never forget our additional social responsibilities. We will continue using our medical resources in pursuit of our vision of caring for those less fortunate, and sharing our UFH Way through training beyond our system. In 2018 the United Foundation for China’s Health was officially registered by the Civil Affairs Ministry of China as a “Private Foundation”. This gives our philanthropic work an independent platform, which can raise tax-deductible donations from Chinese donors.  With the leadership of the foundation, volunteers from each clinic and hospital enthusiastically participated in poverty alleviation through disease prevention and medical services. Thousands of people were helped through our screening missions and the 1% service donations of each of our facilities. These invaluable programs will continue and the foundation will also increasingly take the lead in community training and medical education programs.

And so, for these and a million other reasons large and small, I would like to thank each of my colleagues. Your sense of mission, your professionalism, your passion and enthusiasm are what drove UFH in 2018.  With our continued team work, we will make even greater strides in 2019.  Our future is ever brighter as together we welcome the coming spring.

Happy New Year, Good Health, Peace and happiness to all our UFH Family.

Warmest regards,

Roberta Lipson