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Pathfinder in healthcare Updated: 2018-08-16

China's reform and opening-up drive, along with other efforts to promote entrepreneurship and innovation, is motivating many people, including foreigners, to start businesses in the country.

China Daily website produced a series of videos that offer a glimpse into China's improving business landscape and how foreigners are starting businesses in a wide range of sectors.

This is the third in the series.

"We first started working as a rep office, and it's relatively simple to get a rep office license," said Roberta Lipson, founder and CEO of United Family Healthcare, recalling her early experience in starting her first business, a medical device supplier called Chindex in Beijing, more than 30 years ago.

"When China just began reform and opening-up, there were few regulations for registering local businesses," Lipson said. And thanks to the large market, the company quickly grew.

Before her entrepreneur career began, Roberta obtained a bachelor's degree in Chinese and an MBA, but first she dreamed of becoming a doctor. After graduation she still had an interest in the healthcare industry, so for 10 years she worked for medical companies.

"I spent so much time in Chinese hospitals that I really learned a lot about medicine, and it gave me the ability to have an intelligent conversation with our doctors and to support their work," she said.

In 1997, the first hospital was built, after several years of application process and getting 180 approval seals. Now the approval process is simplified to a certain degree, but it still takes a long time because many bureaus are involved in every step of the application.

"People entrust their life to hospitals, and I understand that the government wants to make sure that they're safe places," she said.

On the board of the US-China business council and the American chamber of commerce, Lipson considers it an opportunity to speak to US and Chinese officials about the experience of sharing business between the two countries.

"It is part of our responsibility to share our experiences with the government and also other potential investors," she said, adding that she once suggested to the government that the value-added tax should not apply to hospitals, and in the end it was excluded.