Thursday, November 11, 2010

What a Private Healthcare System is Really Like

By Simon Black

Today I got another boots on the ground perspective of Thailand's professional, high quality private healthcare system.

I was accompanying a friend of mind this afternoon to the Pattaya branch of Bangkok Hospital, a private chain with five locations across the country. Bangkok Hospital is accredited by JCI, a private, non-profit organization that serves as the gold standard for hospital certifications.

JCI tests just about everything-- the professional credentials of staff physicians, how prepared the hospital is for emergency weather conditions, how quickly patients are treated, depth and management of the pharmacy, environmental protection policies, safeguarding of patient privacy, maintenance schedule of hospital equipment, etc.

In short, a JCI accreditation provides an independent assessment that a foreign hospital's standards of quality and care are consistent with the developed world. Bangkok Hospital certainly doesn't fail to disappoint.

Walking into the main lobby at the Pattaya branch is like walking into a luxury 5-star hotel-- marble floors, gourmet coffee, and a reception staff that's more like a crew of highly trained concierges. Within moments, you're sped along to the appropriate clinic and greeted with welcoming efficiency by a team of staff nurses.

There's very little paperwork at the hospital-- you tell them your name, sign-in, and they take you straight to the triage room for blood pressure and weight check. Afterwards, you barely have time to open up the newspaper before they call your name again to go meet with the doctor.

The staff physicians at the hospital are mostly Thai, though many of them have been trained overseas. Everyone at the hospital (down to the elevator operator) speaks English, and most speak at least another language as well-- German, Mandarin, Russian, and Arabic seem to be the most popular.

As I tend to strike up conversations with people a lot, I spoke with several expats at the hospital's coffee shop while I was waiting for my friend. Each of them routinely comes to Thailand for various procedures, and they seem quite pleased with the treatment.

One woman I met has been back four times to the plastic surgery clinic, and another indicated that she gets annual cancer checkups after receiving treatment a few years ago at Bangkok Hospital. Another man receives periodic dialysis treatment for his diabetes.

All raved about the care, but most of all, the price. The whole point of medical tourism is being able to afford the price of an international flight, room and board in the country, and world class treatment for less than what you would have to pay just for treatment in your home country.

Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok, another one of the country's renowned medical facilities, has a great page on its website to estimate the total cost of many common procedures. For anyone without insurance or huge co-pays to deal with, I think this approach is definitely a solution worth considering.
The above originally appeared at  Sovereign Man.

1 comment:

  1. What a great article- clearly a fully private, pay as you go, non-subsidized or regulated system is the way to go. Too bad our "educational" system has made Americans too stupid to see that.