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Monday, April 05, 2004


MOH to reduce Waiting Time by half

One wonders when was the last time our new Health MINIster (who happens to be a medical doctor) visited the Jabatan Pesakit Luar or OutPatient Dept of one of the hospitals under his MINIstry care. He is of course appalled by the long waiting time for patients attending these departments. According to the new MINIster, his ministry measured "waiting hours" right from the time the patient arrived at the hospital, went through the process of registration and treatment, got his medicine and the time he left the hospital. A wait of some 2 to 3 hours from the time a patient turns up at the JPL/OPD is often the norm. These are the processes a patient needs to go through ::

1. Firstly he/she gets a number and waits to be called for registration
2. Waits for a new card to be issued if the patient is there for the first time/
A returning patient would wait for the old card to be traced
3. The patient waits his/her turn to see the doctor
4. The patient is called to see the doctor, gets examined, investigations are ordered or medication is prescribed
5. The patient next goes to the lab, radiology or other departments for investigation, waits there for his/her turn
6. Goes back to the doctor and waits to have the investigations reviewed, medication is then prescribed
7. Finally the patient goes to the pharmacy to collect medication, again waits turn to be called to collect medication.
8. Goes home to take medication and get well.

Now on how many occasions has the word 'waits' been used. The duration of time a patient has to wait for all these processes depends on many factors on the day concerned ::
1. The number of patients turning up
2. The number of wrongly filed cards
3. The number of staff available at each of the department :: registration counter, card room, staff assisting doctors, doctors themselves, investigation department staff, pharmacy staff
4. The illness the particular patient has, some may require particularly long consultation, numerous investigations
5. The experience of the staff concerned

The new MINIster said one of the ways to reduce the waiting time was for patients to be given appointments within a specific time frame. Is he for real? How many patients attending the JPL/OPD are given appointments, majority of them are walk-in patients. Only those who attend follow-ups at specific diabetic and hypertensive clinics are given appointments and like the ususal Boleh Land Malaysians they are notorious for turning up at times other than the appointed ones.

A few things our new MINIster might want to consider ::
1. The number of examination rooms and staff have not kept up with the number of patients turning up at the JPL/OPD---have more examination rooms and more doctors and auxilliary staff
2. Utilise a better filing system for the patient cards
3. Instill better dedication and discipline in all category of staff, having patient charter just don't work
4. Educate patients to come better prepared for their consultations
5. Patients should be responsible for keeping their own health cards
6. Increase the consultation hours at JPL/OPD by deploying more staff and have them work through the lunch hours on a shift basis

i certainly wish the new MINIster and his MINIstry well and hope that he will really manage to get his 'waiting time' halved in the next couple of months. My next visit to the JPL/OPD would yet prove to be more pleasant and less time consuming.


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