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Shouldn’t private healthcare providers be accountable for high service standards?

Publish date: Fri, 24 May 2024, 05:27 PM

FORGET the ‘fried chicken price wars’, what about private hospitals and healthcare insurance providers? Given the amount of money the latter industries charge consumers for their services, shouldn’t the bar be set higher for them?

This was the case for Facebook user Ng Seksan who shared his miserable experience at Pantai Medical Centre in Kuala Lumpur after suffering from a life-threatening issue. The

The principal landscape architect at Seksan Design claimed that he was made to wait six hours on a plastic chair in the emergency ward before being admitted.

He said the hospital staff seemed more interested in getting his thumb print for the innumerable forms for the insurance coverage. Despite the long wait, the patient let this slide as he was given good care by the doctors and was discharged a week later.

However, the hospital’s crushing bureaucracy again haunted him when he returned for a follow-up blood test. Through no mistake of his own, the poster was made to wait while the administrative staff sorted out a confusion over outstanding payments.

The poster was highly unimpressed by how the hospital prioritised billings instead of his state of health. Despite having full medical coverage from health insurance and paying a large deposit upfront, he still encountered various issues that made his health scare even more unpleasant.

He ended his post with a warning to others about placing their faith in Pantai Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur.

This phenomenon, however, is nothing new nor is it confined to Pantai Medical Centre. Many patients will attest to similarly shoddy “treatment” despite having to fork out thousands of ringgit for the “privilege”.

Ng’s post was also shared on the Malaysian Education (And Homeschooling Info) Facebook site, prompting many to share their own experiences of this ‘no money, no talk’ attitude in private healthcare.

Other netizen shared what was perceived to be “unscrupulous” practices at another private healthcare provider by again highlighting perhaps the patient’s needs are secondary to the hospital’s bottom line.

More than one netizen had praised for public healthcare in the shape of “university hospitals” albeit in the private wings though this was still far cheaper than most - if not all - private hospitals.

Part of the blame must go towards the slow approval process by insurance providers. This is an age-old issue to which one netizen proffered a simple solution.

To be fair, the original poster did say that there were those at the hospital who were very helpful towards his plight but it did not disguise the fact that Pantai Medical Centre seemed more interested in his wallet than his health.

Social media has become the de factor platform for Malaysians to voice their grouses. Various brands and organisations have seen how adverse publicity can severely affect public perception, especially when an issue starts trending, making its way into the wider consciousness via social media feeds.

Comments as the one below were aplenty which surely affects Pantai Medical Centre’s reputation.

If the power of public opinion can sway large fast-food franchises to put on the charm offensive and spark a price war, surely the same pressure can be applied in the far more important sphere of healthcare.

However, the reality is that many people are not in a position to bargain or make demands when their health is in jeopardy. With quality healthcare becoming a pertinent issue in the country due to shortage of staff and facilities, these private healthcare providers hold all the cards.

Hence, it is imperative that more public pressure is brought to bear on this industry. As the adage goes, ‘health is wealth’, the above post and comments highlight how adept these organisations are at sucking patients dry.

As healthcare is an issue with far-reaching consequences and affects all Malaysians, it would be timely for netizens to start a campaign to demand a higher standard of care.

If the power of social media can be harnessed to get better fried chicken, surely it is worth utilising for the purpose of better healthcare. - May 24, 2024

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