Healthcare Decoded – Preface

It is a cold Thursday morning in Nashville though it’s February (the year is 2006). It is almost the end of my business trip only 2 weeks before I leave for India Yippee !!! I am staying at Ridgelake a very beautiful place, there are quite a lot of amenities within the area. A swimming pool, squash court, tennis court, the only thing missing was a cricket pitch :). There even was a temple nearby known as the Ganesh Temple. My colleague who stayed nearby was recently diagnosed with Shingles (a painful rash which is a reactivation of the chicken pox virus). Though he was supposed to stay at home he decided to come to office. Well unfortunately he was told to Go Back Home and not show so much dedication towards work. This is where things started to change, as just couple of days before we were playing Squash!!

               On that morning I noticed my body had small red spots coming up, even on my head I could feel small bumps coming up. I ignored the same and went to office. In the night I decided to use some telemedicine and took a photograph and emailed the same to my Aunt in Washington who is a radiologist. At that time WhatsApp did not exist so we had to use this primitive method of communicating :). After sending the photo I called and asked her but as the photo was not so great we could come to a conclusion that it was a simple rash.

              The next day morning the spots seemed bigger so my colleague with whom I was staying (not Mr. Shingles, Mr. Future Pox ) decided to take me to an urgent care – TUCA (Tennessee Urgent Care Associates). {This is where my journey of understanding Healthcare actually began}.

 We reached TUCA and went and sat in the lobby waiting for our turn. Till I waited my turn came I was handed a form to fill up which had all information around my name, age, gender and other information related to my Insurance. Since I was on a business trip I had insurance but I did not have an insurance card. So what did that imply? Well I basically had to pay from my pocket and get the same reimbursed directly from the Insurance company. We waited around 20-30 minutes in the lobby before my turn came. Once my turn came we went to the examination room where the nurse came and asked me some more questions. The nurse also had a form with her clipped on a writing pad. She asked me various questions around my lifestyle for example –

  • Do You Smoke ?
  • Do You Drink ?
  • Are you on any medication ?

Along with this she also took my vitals in terms of Blood pressure, height, weight and temperature. All of this information she noted down on the form. After all of this is when arrived the hero of Process – The Physician.. The physician looked at the information filled on the chart by the Nurse, then looked at the spots and said – “Ok, So you have Chicken Pox..“.

Oh My God !! Here I was making plans to go back and now I would not be able to travel since I had the Pox (contagious you know – like Shingles). It is important to note the Shingles is also caused by the same Chicken Pox Virus. The other reason why it was important for me to reach home was I had an interview for my Part Time MBA on 17th Feb and here I was around 2 weeks from that date unable to travel.The Physician then gave me my prescription and also gave me a date for my next visit which was around 4-5 days away. It was now time to leave and I had to pay a bill of approx. $200/- out of my pocket, note that this did not include the bill for medications which I had to buy from a nearby pharmacy.

So after the visit myself and Mr. Future Pox went to the nearby pharmacy to buy my medications. It was interesting to note that the medications provided to me were in custom boxes, i.e. the box had the medication name as well as my name (Patient’s name). I found this new as this is not how I bought medications in India.

The next time when I went for a follow up (after around 4 days I think so) I did not have to wait, I was told you can go and directly sit in the room (this was because I had Chicken Pox – contagious you know!!). Then I went for one final time where the Doctor even gave me a certificate stating I can travel. So I packed my bags reached India on 18th Feb, gave my interview on the last day of the schedule which was 19th Feb. Luckily I did well and went on to do my Part Time MBA for three years – evening (6:45pm to 9:15pm) and weekend classes.