U.S. healthcare is a divisive topic. We Americans can agree that our system could be a lot better, but we can’t agree on how to effect changes.
Paradoxically, this will improve the design of overseas hospitals. Not just the way that they operate, but their very design. As for the first part, an acquaintance of mine named Peggy, an American expat living overseas, recounted this:
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I was reading about healthcare in the US vs. in other countries, and was reminded of the time when [my husband] and I both came down with a cold while we were vacationing in Thailand a few years ago. We went to the international hospital there, where we were given intake forms at a desk that was like those you see at fancy banks.
The lobby of the hospital we had gone to was like at a five-star hotel, no kidding. It took about 30 minutes to see the doctor, and he gave us a prescription, which we filled at the pharmacy on the first floor. It took about maybe 1-1.5 hours total (I don’t remember, exactly), and the total cost, including the meds, was $45.
When I exclaimed how ridiculously cheap this was, my Thai friend laughed and told me that this was “expensive,” because this was a hospital for the rich and for foreign tourists (many people do go there for medical tourism). Most Thai people go to regular hospitals that would have charged $1.
This is the hospital she went to:
You cannot help but notice that Bumrungrad Hospital, which is billed as the world’s number one international private hospital, is designed to look like a resort. The public areas are pleasant, bordering on luxurious. Contrast that with the interiors of any other U.S. hospital you’ve been inside of. Ask yourself which you’d rather visit and spend time in.
Not to mention the medical care costs a fraction–as low as 1/8th–of what it costs in the ‘States. This 60 Minutes segment on Bumrungrad shows the average patient’s UX, touches on the design of the environment and covers the brilliance of Bumrungrad’s business model:
As they mention at the end of the segment, other hospitals around the world have taken note of Bumrungrad’s success. If the American healthcare system remains in its current state–or heaven forbid, worsens–overseas medical tourism will only increase. And we’re going to see more hospitals designed to look like 5-star resorts.