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Posts Tagged ‘Private Hospitals’

Whosoever coined the term ‘patient’ in the distant past was indeed blessed patient 1with some degree of prescience. He could foresee that the poor soul will have to earn this exalted status in life the hard way. He would need to patiently await his turn in long serpentine queues at hospitals and at doctor’s clinics. He would have to be patient with his bank balance when it starts depleting the moment he is examined by a doctor. He would need to be patient and suffer the ignonimity of undergoing all the tests prescribed. He would then again have to patiently wait to report back the results to the doctor concerned. Nerves of chilled steel would be required to consume all the medications written out illegibly on a piece of paper. His reserves of patience would once again be called upon to mitigate his suffering when side effects of the drugs start tormenting him.

A singular challenge faced by patients of all hues, sizes and shapes these days is that of continuity. Family doctors happen to be a tribe which has become almost extinct by now. Gone are the days when a personal rapport with the family doctor could work wonders, or when the emphasis used to be more on physical examination and the symptoms of the patient rather than on excessive medical tests.

The ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’

In a dichotomous health delivery market like that of India, we have the multitudes of ‘have-nots’ who struggle to make two ends meet. For them, a challenge on the health front is not the very first priority to be handled. The question of survival itself comes first. When the body simply revolts and there are no options left, they turn to government-run centres and hospitals and make do with whatever facilities they are able to access.

Not so for the well-heeled ones. They have the means to avail the servicespatient 2 offered by swank hospitals run by the private sector. Recourse to fancy insurance schemes becomes helpful. In any case, since health is held to be more important than wealth, a slice of the latter getting lost to restore the former is seldom bemoaned. On the contrary, the massive cost incurred on a hospital stay gets worn on their slick sleeves, much like a proud soldier would display his medals earned on the fronts, and comes in pretty handy for an uplifting ego boost.

They get to pick and choose. Word of mouth often helps. Brand recognition helps. When an emergency comes up, distance becomes the determining factor.

Upon entering such institutions, the patient is spoilt for choice. Options for accommodation include air-conditioned special rooms, deluxe air-conditioned rooms and even super deluxe suites. He is then put on an assembly line and subjected to awe-inspiring medical diagnostics. The fear of the unknown on part of the patient helps the corporate body to fulfil its obligations towards its shareholders. When a surgery is deemed necessary, the kind cruelty of a surgeon’s knife also ends up drilling a gaping hole in the patient’s pocket. Admittedly, the patient has the satisfaction of having being in safe hands and possibly also getting the necessary relief.

Sandwiched between these two layers of society are the not-so-well-heeled. They detest the dinghy corridors and the surging crowds in public institutions. They place their trust in the private outfits, get exploited financially, and end up missing the objective healthcare advice dished out by medical practitioners in government clinics and hospitals.

A Supermarket approach to getting healed

Those who are well-heeled and suffer from life style diseases have even a wider patient 3choice available to them. They are like true customers in a market economy which could be best characterized as ‘laissez faire’. Hospitals and clinics in the private sector advertise their wares smartly and entice such customers to avail their services. Once a patient has enrolled himself, a Customer Relationship Management software takes over. Greetings on birthdays and anniversaries, special screening camps, package deals – these are but some of the pretexts which get used to woo the patient for his next round of illness.

The well-heeled also have the luxury of choosing the system of medicine they wish to pursue. Allopathy is believed to be providing only interim succour or, in most cases, a basic relief. A regimen of popping the pills, exercise and food habits gets prescribed. Once they have become used to the same, life runs in an auto-pilot mode.

The well-heeled explorers

But the human nature is always on the lookout for refinements and the proverbial icing on the cake. A sense of creative dissatisfaction prevails. Despair and despondency soon take over and the search starts for an alternate system of healing. New frontiers get explored. New therapists get met. Merits and demerits of various kinds of treatments on offer get analyzed threadbare by those around, while the patient experiences the inner glow of satisfaction at being the centre of continued attraction and also at exploring new frontiers, much like a Columbus on a maiden voyage to discover Newfoundland.Patient Columbus-Day

This is not to say that an explorer-type attitude can be scoffed at. It reveals a sunny disposition on part of the inner being. The soul, unhappy at being burdened with a physical sheath which is infirm, merely endeavours to attain a state of perfection in the body allotted to it during a particular birth cycle. It uses all the powers at its command – analytical or intuitional – to achieve good health. It tries to bring about better harmony between its body, mind and soul. Wisdom gleaned from the medical fraternity as well as from the scriptures assists the soul in this task.

Besides managing a bodily affliction, patients have to confront the cold impersonality and crass commercialization of the healthcare delivery mechanism. This is but one of the perils of being a patient in today’s world.

(All illustrations are courtesy the world wide web)

(Note: Part of an article which appeared in NAMAH journal: http://www.namahjournal.com/doc/Actual/Patients-and-the-art-and-science-of-healing-Vol-24-iss-2.html)

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/05/22/the-science-of-healing)

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