Hacking Bangkok Blog

Tech and Living in Thailand's City of Angels

The Hacking Bangkok blog covers I.T. and technology in general, and my experiences working and living in the Kingdom of Thailand. Bangkok has a very long Thai name, which starts with Krung thep - City of Angels.
Bangkok sunset from my bedroom balcony

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

When You Have To Visit a Hospital - Might As Well Be a Nice One!

Two weeks ago, I caught some mutant, drug-resistant strain of strept throat that has been kicking my butt ever since. After two days of thinking (wrongly) that I would just fight off whatever it was like I do a cold, I gave up and went to the hospital. In Bangkok, most of the hospitals are probably okay, but most expats (and medical tourists) go to Bumrungrad Hospital. It was the first hospital in Asia to be accredited by JCI (the same group that accredits hospitals in the U.S.).

As an I.T. person, I've always had an interest in Bumrungrad - they've got a nearly paperless digital hospital system. Electronic medical records, multilingual support, every prescription is scanned in and saved in your file which your doctors can get to from anywhere, the works. The software package was originally developed by Global Care Solutions (GCS), and was built on the Microsoft .Net platform and SQL Server. GCS had a hellish reputation for burning out programmers (although they paid well!), and I've interviewed a few "ex-Global Care" people over the years for jobs in companies I've worked in here.

When Google started talking about electronic medical records a couple of years ago, it must have spooked Microsoft, though - they up and bought GCS lock, stock and stethoscope! I'm guessing (from my own experiences at Microsoft) that it's a much better place to work now.

When I was doing my MBA program here, I went on a tour given by a then employee (who was later fired - doh!). Because the hospital serves patients from all over the world speaking every language, non-English speakers are assignd a young woman wearing a small flag-pin to show what language she can speak (e.g., a visiting Japanese patient has a Japanese-speaking Thai girl following him around to translate). Their I.T. systems do the same - that same patient's prescription instructions come out in Japanese.

when you're waiting for your number to be called at the pharmacy, or the cashier (I have insurance, so luckily no charge), Arabs have their little info-slips in Arabic, Koreans in Korean, and so on.

In any case - they're growing a culture of whatever was eating my throat up, and I'll be back at Bumrungrad (gotta love that name) again Saturday. Did I mention the other reason it's my favorite hospital? There's a Starbucks in the lobby, and the nursing staff are... how to put this delicately... a bit more aesthetically pleasing than in any hospital I've been in back in the states. *cough*