We visited a hospital today so I thought I’d take a few minutes to pass on the experience to you.

This month we’re in Pattaya, Thailand. One of the common questions that comes up when thinking about living in different parts of the world is medical care. Like many new things in life, it can seem scary and intimidating at first. But, also like many new things, once you experience the new reality you realize it’s better than what you’ve been used to.

So anyway, Connie had something she wanted looked at and we decided to take advantage of the excellent Bangkok Pattaya Hospital while we were in Thailand.   It has all those credentials and international certifications that demonstrate they provide the same level of medical care as Canada, US, Germany, and all the other top-tier providers.

Technically, it is Bangkok Hospital but this location is about 90 minutes away in Pattaya. (Pattaya, by the way, is a pretty wild place. We like it because it’s one of the most cosmopolitan places in the world. You can hear ten different languages spoken just while walking to lunch. People visit and live here from virtually every country on earth. It also has a well-deserved reputation as an “anything goes” lifestyle town. To paint the picture quickly I usually tell Americans that ‘Pattaya makes Vegas look like Salt Lake City.’ But that’s something for another post.)

Yesterday Connie jumped online and made an appointment to visit the hospital at 2PM. An email informed her that they would confirm the appointment before that time. Early the next day (today) an email arrived suggesting we come in at 1:40PM and go directly to Registration first.

The taxi dropped us right at the hospital’s front entrance doors. A friendly hospital employee opened the the taxi door and welcomed us. Two other employees, smiling the whole time, ushered us inside and walked us to a waiting colleague who had the forms ready. Virtually no different to arriving at a Ritz Carlton or the Augustus Tower at Caesars Palace in Vegas in terms of hospitality and level of service.

Many of you reading this might know the utter hassle of being a new hospital patient in the USA. I won’t go into any of that. I’ll just say that the attendant asked Connie three things: Name, mobile phone number, and to see her passport. Done. All of the information was recorded by the attendant and Connie only picked up the pen to sign the bottom of the simple form. No reams of legal liability waivers, statutory privacy rules, or detailed financial information were involved.

Without delay we were escorted to the area of the hospital where Connie could visit her new physician. Importantly, this was a not a general physician that would pass her on to the appropriate specialist – this was the relevant specialist. I also want to mention that, as we walked through a wing of the hospital, even the janitorial staff would pause from polishing the gleaming floors, to smile directly at us.

We waited maybe five minutes until Connie was escorted to the examination room. She had a comprehensive consultation with the physician who also performed a thorough physical examination. The physician recommended a lab test and an ultrasound.

I’ll pause here to mention that, after living many years in the US, this is where I start to see the dollar signs floating out the window. And, having lived in Canada and the UK as a taxpayer covered by government medical plans, I can also tell you this is where a Canadian or Brit might see a six week wait until the ultrasound can be scheduled. Either way, it’s less than ideal.

Today we were quoted a price for the ultrasound and elected to go ahead with it. Immediately. And the price was not an estimate or a ballpark range. It was to the exact baht.

Again we were personally escorted to the radiology area one floor above us. There were no additional forms to complete. It was another five minute wait on sumptuous sofas instead of the McDonald’s plastic furniture in most US hospitals. Then a specialist physician – a radiologist MD – not a technician, performed a very comprehensive abdominal ultrasound.

“How long until we’ll know the results?” asked Connie.

How about forty minutes? We were escorted back to the first physician who was holding a complete report from her radiologist colleague. A diagnosis was made and options were discussed. Connie left there a very happy woman.

OK, so what did all of this cost?

– Registration as a first time patient at a major international hospital

– Registration as a first time patient with two new physicians

– Consultation with a specialist

– Physical examination by a specialist

– Lab work (Results will be sent next week via email. Requesting an email address was Question #4 of the whole visit.)

– Abdominal ultrasound performed by a radiologist

– Another consultation with the specialist to discuss the results of the ultrasound and recommended treatments

All in: US $210.

Perhaps just as astonishingly, we went from inbound taxi to outbound taxi in just under two hours. Done. Let’s go have drink by the ocean in the sunshine.

Also, it was only about 24 hours from the time Connie first sent an e-mail requesting an appointment to the time we were done with everything!

Hey, I want to mention that I’m not advocating any particular delivery method for an entire nation’s medical system. I don’t claim to know what the big answers are in the quagmire of 21st century medical care. I just know that as individuals, Connie and I enjoy the flexibility and options we have as people who can live where we want, visit where we want, and weigh options that most people just don’t know they could have.

I’m convinced this is the way of the future. As more people operate their own nano-economies and own and control their own portable source of income, these options become obvious and desirable. There are fantastic products and services available all over the world and many of them can boost your quality of life while lowering your expenses. What’s not to love about that?