When our health system works, it’s unbeatable

Today was a great day.  Despite the shortcomings of our medical complex, when it works right, it is a beautiful thing.  Actually, it’s not just beautiful, it can deliver the best care available anywhere in the world.  I know.  I saw it happen today.

Today, Mr. X presented with a troublesome history and an even more threatening physical exam.  I was afraid that the disease I was about to diagnose would be a devastating one.  After discussing my concerns with my patient, I ordered the diagnostic test I expected would help me make an accurate diagnosis.  Luckily, his insurance company did not put up a “prior authorization” roadblock, so I was free to proceed with scheduling his test.

The hospital responded to my patient’s needs with an immediate appointment and quickly performed the test.  Within minutes, the radiologist was on the phone confirming my suspicions and requesting a subsequent test to further classify the problem and sharpen the diagnosis.  The fact that I got the first test done and interpreted in an hour and a half was miraculous.  I informed Mr. X that he would need further testing and that I would help him schedule it as soon as possible.

While I was on the phone with Mr. X, the manager of the radiology department was calling on the other line.  She informed me that she had an immediate availability for the next exam and would get me the results ASAP.  Again, within a few hours, Mr. X and his spouse were seated in my conference room, anxiously awaiting the results of the testing.

Fear is a horrible disease and my patient and his spouse were steeped in fear and worry.  While I was talking to the couple, the radiologist called.  My patient would need the skills of a specialist, the prognosis was excellent and the diagnosis was most probably NOT cancer.

Things could not have gone any better.  The patient and hospital moved quickly to delineate what the problem was and come up with a solution.  The hospital’s x-ray department excelled beyond all expectations!  Thanks, guys.

To make my day perfect, the specialist’s office also stepped up in a big way.  Mr. X will see the specialist in the morning.  Thirty six hours, start to finish is unbeatable.  So, say what you will about our medical system, but understand that when it works, it is unbeatable.

Stewart Segal is a family physician who blogs at Livewellthy.org.

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  • John

    That’s nice congrats – but that is a rarity in the US Heath care system. Most pts wait for days even months to get on overly burdened schedules, all the time anxiety is climbing. I doubt it will be a bit better under obama plan but I suppose we have to start somewhere. I am glad this patient got the benefit of a good day in the system.

  • hopeint

    what was the condition?

  • Teri K. NP

    This is how it should be. In the area I live in, we are not so lucky. My patients need to wait for prior auth. Or send them 45 minutes away to find the skilled Peterson whom can perform test. I hope & pray the ACA will aide in improving the current plans.

  • ippispechl

    It’s a good feeling wrapping up a category one case so fast. In Australia, with Medicare, we can normally do this when required. (With a skipped lunch or some overtime)

  • http://twitter.com/DebErupts Deborah

    And then the bills arrive, you find out how little your insurance actually pays for and you’re filing for medical bankruptcy within a year.

  • IntMed2.0

    Amazingly at Kaiser Permanente in Northern CA I get these momentnt 2-4 times a week, about 40-75% of the time the opportunity presents itself.

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