Medical Professionals – difference in culture and care standards

Posted: May 3, 2014 in POV
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In Canada, dentists charge a flat rate according to the service they provide unless you lack extended medical coverage then they may be willing to work at a lower rate to get you in the door for the care you require.  It’s great that the majority of the population has medical coverage so everyone gets the care they require.  On a basic service such as cleaning, they spend an hour working on your teeth – from x-rays to old school hand instruments.  The dentist is solely there to supervise and if you’re lucky, they also perform the procedures that are usually done by their dental hygienists.  In essence, if the work is simple they are able to have the hygienists perform the majority of the work and the dentist is there to supervise and sign off.  Everyone wins.  Dentists get to charge the insurance companies their rate for work done by hygienist.  Win-win for both parties as they avoid the mundane work well known to cause the high suicide rates prevalent in their industry.

Hong Kong is a different world all together.  No hygienists.  The dentist performs all the work so their goal is to get you in and out as quickly as possible.  Gone are the hand instruments to perform fine work and replaced with sandblasting.  My previous one hour cleaning in Canada is now done within 10 minutes.  The dentist spent more time explaining to me why it’s better to use technology and innovation to cut the time it takes to perform normal cleaning.  Since I have lost the Canadian standard of extended medical benefits, I no longer go in once a month.  My last cleaning was over 1.5 years ago so I was due.

I was quite bothered by the difference in care quality for dental work so I gave my dentist in Canada a call to discuss.  The sandblasting is likely the prophy jet which is used to remove staining.  Hand scaling is still the gold standard in Canada.  With the prophy jet, the dentist can no longer feel for calculus buildup under the gum-line.  She was shocked at the quickness of the cleaning process and advised me to find a new dentist.  Great.  I then happen to sit beside a HK dentist during dinner so I happen to bring up the topic.  He broke it down simply as under service and over service.  HK is an environment of under service, they do the bare minimum to get by.  Oral health is no longer or will ever be at the forefront of customer dollars.  The price difference is substantial, my one hr cleaning in Canada cost just over $1000 HKD vs $380 for the 10 mins.

Doctors are even worse.  For GPs in Canada, the government sets the max number of patients you can see in one day so everyone gets proper care.  It also hinders their pay scales so they know exactly where they max out.  In HK, capitalism at its finest does not have such care and service for its patients.  They over medicate.  I don’t even need a prescription for drugs if I know which drugs to take.  I can walk into the Chinese Dispensaries (with the red cross on white background) and walk out with any drug you can imagine: Viagra, Cialis, codeine cough syrup to mix with jolly ranchers, anything.  HK doesn’t even have pharmacies.  Doctors prescribe and dispense the drugs after the diagnosis.  Which begs the question, are they really giving me the drugs I need? or giving me a prescription cocktail to which the drug reps want them to push?  Pharmacies carry large inventory and selection so the patient has the option of name-brand vs. generics.  I’m suppose to think the tiny doctor’s office will have all the drugs on hand to proper treat the illness at hand?

Typical Hong Kong.  TYFBO.


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