I had the recent pleasure of being part of the group of Nurses who participated in the Nurses for Nurses Network Medical Tourism Trip to Bangkok. What an experience! I think many pre conceived perceptions about Medical Tourism and Service Provision in Bangkok were rapidly altered after visiting Bumrungrad Hospital & Bangkok Hospital. The Nurses, general staff ,equipment and systems in place were impressive!
Both Hospitals made our group of Australian Nurses very welcome and we were provided personalised tours of the hospitals by senior Executive Staff. At Bumrungrad Hospital Ms Catherine Harsono, Mr. Sudi Narasimhan and Mrs. Jiraporn Lekdumrongsak kindly gave of their time providing us detailed presentations about the services provided and the general operations of the hospital. They also made themselves available to answer the numerous questions from our Group.
Mrs Pachanee Torwong and key members of her staff were very gracious in giving of their time and answering questions at Bangkok Hospital. Pachanee is actually the Director of Nursing of 43 hospitals – can you imagine the work load and the related responsibilities and yet she gave of her time to share with us! Did you know that Bangkok Hospital is Accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI), a US-based organization widely seen as the gold standard for top-level healthcare service providers worldwide?
The physical structure of the hospital was very impressive from an operational perspective. There has been significant planning to ensure that the hospital physical structure does not impede daily operations and most importantly care delivery – How many of us have worked in what has been supposedly ‘state of the art’ or ultra modern buildings but in effect have found them different to work in due to poor planning from a practical care delivery perspective.
Upon entry to the 400+ bed hospital one couldn’t help but be impressed by the cleanliness of the surrounds which extended to all areas of the hospital that we visited.Even areas that are well known to be difficult to keep clean. e.g. high ceilings and soft furnishings were spotless.
These private hospitals were massive in size and extensive in the range of services provided but there was a strong sense of calm professionalism and consistency across all areas.
The rooms were very impressive – more like suites in a hotel with a separate kitchenette area and dining and living area for family members. There is even a 7/ 11 store along with restaurants and Star Bucks available on site. There are interpreters available if required in over 26 different languages , but we noted there was signage and instructions in English. Nurses at the Hospital appear to have a very well planned and comprehensive career path whereby they can choose whether they wish to progress along a clinical or managerial path. The Systems and processes to support service delivery appeared rigorous and it is easy to see how this hospital maintains accreditation as, supported by their culture, staff appear to strongly adhere to agreed processes and do not deviate from same without permission.
The hospital owns its own fleet of ambulances and if the traffic is an issue, they can send medical assistance via motorbikes ahead of the ambulance arriving.
Bumrungrad International Hospital: This hospital was very impressive even before one entered. It looked like you were driving up to the entrance of a 5 star luxury hotel. It has over 580 beds and is also JCI accredited. The hospital serves more than1.1 million patients each year and this includes over half a million international patients.
This hospital also has impressive patient suites and even caters for Royal family members from a range of different nations. The hospital was incredibly clean and believe me I was looking hard . Speciality clinics include the ability to be reviewed by a specialist with very timely follow up including surgery with impressive onsite post operative care including rehabilitation with the latest in equipment and technology appearing to be the norm.
All staff that we came into contact with were warmly professional and wore their uniforms with pride. No staff member looked untidy or had on clothes that were creased or appeared to be un ironed ( how many staff do you know who come to work in uniforms that are not properly ironed? ).
Bumrungrad International Hospital, like Bangkok Hospital appeared to have an incredibly high emphasis on international clients and their services are well structured to take into account the needs and expectations of those from overseas who wish to have medical/ surgical services delivered .
As Nurses our visit was focused on care delivery and the variety of services offered and based on what we saw and heard on the day we were impressed. The Royal Australasian College of Surgeon’s has a clear position on medical tourism and its important to note that we didn’t spend time observing or specifically discussing the outcomes / issues associated with clients who have procedures performed overseas and then return home soon after.
As an Australian Nurse who has always been interested in systems, customer service and quality, this trip was definitely informative and thought provoking . In travelling to other countries to see how healthcare is delivered I think it re confirms what is done well at home in Australia and most importantly it can also provide positive ideas for improvements in your own workplace.