Monday, December 7, 2009

Efficiency in Chinese Hospitals

I came down with a cold a few days ago and it quickly dropped into my chest. Each time I coughed I was rocked with intense pain in my left lung, like someone was cutting me with a knife. I was left stooped over in pain, catching my breathe for a minute, dreading the next cough. Having just spent a week helping a student recover from pneumonia, I wanted to rule out any possibility that she had passed it on to me. I was hyper-paranoid because I was about to visit my 4-year-old daughter and my 4-month-old nephew and I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going to put their health at risk.

To rule out pneumonia you need to get a chest x-ray. The speed at which the whole process unfolded was astounding. I walked into the emergency room and walked right over to a doctor. Within 2 minutes I had an order for a chest x-ray. After paying $12 (for the doctor’s time and the x-ray) I went directly to the radiology department where I was the 10th person in line, and yet, 10 minutes later my name was called. The nurse closed the lead doors behind us, showed me where to stand, hit a few buttons, and sent me on my way. The longest part of the process was waiting for my results, a whole 15 minutes, about the time it took me to write this document.

When the process was all said and done, I spent 45 minutes and $12 dollars ruling out pneumonia. I am fortunate to have a GOOD insurance plan, and yet I would have paid hundreds of dollars and spent numerous hours going through the same process in the U.S. While we all understand how troubled our medical system is, what most people don’t understand is just how cost effective and efficient other countries medical systems are. While China numerous challenges as it moves towards a 1st world country, her is one area where they are far more advanced than the U.S.

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