Monday, March 2, 2009

Medical Care in Malaysia - My Visit to the Doctor

I visited a few offices in Malaysia, and I was a patient at one. It was really nice to get to see what it was like as a patient. It is one thing to hear about the workflow and a completely different thing to be IN the workflow. J So, I went to the Twin Towers Medical Centre.

It was a 21 provider office, and I was nervous about how long it would take as there were a lot of people there. I asked, and the receptionist was kind of vague so I am thinking it will be a long time. I decide that I need to go as my ear is really hurting and I am nervous about flying with my ear all screwy.

So, the receptionist has me fill out a one page form that asked for no insurance. It did ask for my name, DOB, passport number, permanent residence, temporary residence in KL, and what my complaint was. Efficient. I was given a paper number like you get at the deli counter in the grocery store and directed to a seating area.

Here, there is a sign that displays the numbers and the room to go to when it is your turn.

When your number appears, you go open the door. Of course, I feel weird just opening it, so someone has to tell me to walk in. :)

There are doors in a square with the specialty on the door. The physician stays in the room, and the patients come to him/her instead of stacking the rooms with patients to wait and then having the physician go to the different rooms.

My doctor was at her desk, and there was a chair next to her. An exam room was in the back of the room. She asked some basic questions, and then she listened to my chest, looked in my ears and nose, and looked at my throat. She said that I had some blood and bulging in my ear. BAD. She says that I need some medications. She writes FIVE prescriptions - an antibiotic, antibiotic ear drops, nasal spray, cough medicine for the day, and cough medicine for the night. She asks me to wait in the lobby again and to wait for my number. The lab draw is the same way. They put your number on the sign and you go to the lab. Then, when it is time to pay, your number is on the wall for reception and they call it - or maybe I wasn't paying enough attention to be quick. :) I go to the payment desk. She says it is $184.14 RM which is $54. WOW. Then, the pharmacist is there with my prescriptions filled and they are included in the $54. This has all taken slighly under 20 minutes. AMAZING.

So, I pondered this a lot. I like the idea of the specialists all in one place and the idea of the doctor waiting in the room for each patient to come in and out. I didn't mention the nurses, but they were there to assist along the way as well. I did see pharmacies there, but I guess they are mainly for uncommon drugs since all of the people I talked to there dispense their own meds.

Some problems in the US to adopt something similar:

Doctors are probably not paid as much in Malaysia as in the US.

Doctors rule the office here and I don't know that they would like sitting in the room waiting for patients.

Drug costs are much higher here, but that is a whole other discussion probably.

Insurance - I doubt they are having to pay crazy malpractice insurance.

Payment - $184 RM didn't seem like too much based on the prices for other things. It might be though for those outside of the tourist areas. Not sure how that affects the pricing.

Public Service - there are private hospitals and public hospitals. Each physician is required to work for the public hospital for 3 years before going into private practice. This helps with coverage. Interesting idea...

The hospitals we saw were also very nice. I did hear that there aren't enough hospitals for rural areas, but that is a problem in a lot of places. :) Anyway, I was very impressed and thought it was a very efficient and productive visit. The doctor I saw was also very nice and so was her nurse.

1 comment:

  1. I think the Concept works in India too primarily because the reasons you said, Physician might get paid good in India but not as much as its been in US. Also I think most of the work in India still works on Cash basis so it make sense to keep the patient in one area for all their needs that would in turn be more income to that group.

    So if the patient comes in Practice any needs Specialst, he is there. And the whole idea of Doctor in room is more like that is that doctor's Office and people usually would wait to go in the room and once the services are rendered doctor would either refer to other doctor in same premise or to Pharmacy for prescription. And usually, I would assume that Doctors wouldn't sit idle as they would long list of patients are coming in.

    But very efficient workflow through.