I’m sick. I started getting sick just after returning from 12 days in China (12 Days in China, that has a Hollywood ring to it!). Whatever bug I got had the upper hand over the last few days, So, I thought I should go see my doctor.Thank goodness I got an appointment today at 12:15. Remembering this appointment had me reflect on what I saw while in China. One thing that really stands out are the long lines outside Chinese hospitals. Here in the U.S., I’ll get dressed at noon, then head over to my doctor’s office, where I’m sure I’ll wait a little bit, but somewhere around 12:15 I’ll be seen at least by his Nurse Practitioner (NP) if not by my doctor himself. In China, if you have to have your throat looked at, you head over to the hospital before the sun rises and wait in line. And maybe you’ll be seen…in several hours. In fact, the line at the hospital near my hotel stretched around the block. I imagine those poor people may have to wait all day to be seen! I’m thankful that on or around 12:15,shortly after I arrive at my doctor’s office, I’m going to be seen by my doctor. I’m thankful because I’m a wimp: If I had to go down to the clinic and wait in line while sick, I don’t know what I’d do. It seems like a little thing, but the ability to see a doctor when one is sick and to see that person immediately is an enormous benefit – to the sick person, and to a country’s economy – imagine how inefficient it is to have a whole line of people waiting to find out what’s ailing them, when they could be living, working, teaching, or building something, or getting well…. It’s no wonder Intel sees a huge opportunity in making healthcare delivery more efficient and less costly. According to a very prominent U.S. plastic surgeon I talked with last week, the majority of health providers in the U.S. are still using pencil and paper in an age where mobile multifunction devices, powerful notebooks and the Internet are revolutionizing business, education and, yes, medicine in some isolated pockets. While in China I talked with another surgeon who complained about paperwork as a source of wasted time and energy…time and energy that perhaps could be used to see more people. And make those lines shorter…. Someday, I’d like the Chinese people to have the same opportunity we have in the U.S. Sure, our healthcare system isn’t perfect, but at least I’m not out there on the side walk waiting…. Instead, I’m in the clinic (while writing this post, the nurse took my vitals and the doctor has been in here once already. It’s now 12:15). Here’s a funny story: my doctor installed an electronic medical records solution in his clinic in January. He’s been complaining to me for the last 10 minutes about how the system is making everybody work later, longer, and harder rather than making their worklife easier (he knows I work at Intel). He’s wondering why doctors didn’t play a role in designing these things. He says, none of the alternatives he looked at were any better than the one he bought and now he’s wondering why he even invested in the $120K network in the first place. At minute eleven, he said “wow, I should pay you for the visit. I feel much better having gotten that off my chest.” I like my doctor. Ok. Gotta run and get un-sick.
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