27 February 2011, by Dannie Cho
Imagine you’re the boss of a company. You have employees. You pay your employees for the time that they spend at work, so that the company is profitable.
Then the internet age is upon us, and while it makes sense to give internet and email access to your employees, you are pretty darned sure that not all the time spent online is work-related. You’re going to have some who log on to Facebook or Twitter on the sly. Some who do a quick round of online shopping. And practically everybody is going to spend at least a small percentage of their time on personal email. In that sense, you’re already not getting your money’s worth.
Then your female employees get pregnant. They need to visit the doctor’s/obstetrician on a monthly, then fortnightly, then weekly basis. Then they will pop, and they get 4 months maternity leave.
It’s tough to be a good, understanding boss and still be able to turn in a profit, especially if you are running a small company of say, 10 staff. One person gone represents 10% of your workforce being depleted. Or, I were to use a more “powerful” word, your workforce has been decimated (also meaning 10% gone).
But the excitement of having a child is not the mother’s alone. Guys can get excited too, and many, like me, would love to be able to accompany their wives for their scans. To see that fuzzy image of new life; to see if they can spot the difference between a penis and a finger; and most importantly (to me, anyway), to drive the wife to and from the hospital, because movement gets more difficult, and we can’t trust the others on the train to offer their seats to pregnant ladies, especially not in the phase where they simply look fat!
Which brings me to a couple of this I like about KK Hospital and how they manage queues.
First, SMS alerts. To fully appreciate SMS alerts, you have to first resign yourself to the fact that even if you have the earliest appointment possible, you are going to have to do a bit of waiting around to see the doctor. Why? I don’t know, because I’m not a doctor. But I suppose they might have emergencies elsewhere (babies don’t just get born between 9am to 5pm), or maybe they just plain overslept. But either way, you know you’re in for a wait. But at KKH, you can wait anywhere you want. Go visit the second-hand bookstore. Go have breakfast in McDonald’s or the food court. Because when it’s almost your turn, you’ll get an automated SMS alert. My favorite hangout, before I succumbed and put my office mailbox on my iPhone, was to hang out at McDonald’s with my laptop. Doesn’t really feel like malingering if I’m answering work emails all the time, eh?
Second, KKH’s Antenatal FAST scheme. In the usual process, after you see the doctor, you have to wait around again to make your payment, and at the same time, arrange for your next appointment. I used to amuse myself by pretending it was all a lucky draw…
Nurse: Patient 4358. 4…3…5… 8?
Me: Went home! Next!
But it’s rare that the nurse calls out the numbers, lah. And I only respond under my breath, so at most only the wife and one other person seated on the other side of me will hear me and try to keep their laughter in.
Anyway, the Antenatal FAST scheme. It allows you to just go straight home after your consultation. Payment will be deducted from an initial depost of $488 that you have to place with the hospital. When that amount gets depleted, it will be automatically topped up through GIRO or your credit card.
Your bill and details of your next appointment will simply be mailed to you within the next 7 days.
The scheme automatically terminates upon delivery of your baby, and whatever amount you still have with the hospital is offset from the cost of delivery.
Such a simple, elegant, lovely arrangement. I love it! And I also love the additional 30 minutes it saves me from every visit to the hospital that I accompany the wife.
Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the processes that KKH has put in place to reduce the total waiting time for every consultation. Because I am such a hard-working fellow, and just can’t wait to go back to my job!