India is well known for having healthcare and quality doctors, surgeons, and specialists. The list of doctors and medical facilities is long and extensive here in Delhi and the right one for you may take some searching. I personally like asking around or what I call “referral by word of mouth” to start my doctor and medical facility search.
In the beginning, my frustration with going to the doctor was the language barrier. Though most speak English, not knowing or understanding whats going on around me as everyone speaks in a native language to each other, plus the lack of protocol at most hospitals and clinics made me feel confused and lost. It made me wonder Did I come to the right place? After a few visits, I told myself not to worry and go with the flow, in which case many would nod their heads with a yes/no answer leaving me with a question mark on my face. The experience was interesting, to say the least.
This may not be case with you at first but knowing what to expect and being prepared may help to make your life easier.
In the western world, we are “spoiled” and may be used to things being managed in a timely matter. You fill out some paperwork, you see the doctor and then you pay the bill.. easy! You might even have some instructions to follow up written in your print out instructions sheet and possibly a follow-up courtesy call. In India, you may want to forget about any of the above. If you’re at a hospital you will need to pay the bill, this is your ticket to see the doctor and it will apply for a surgery or even having any medication supplied at an emergency room. In other words, “the bill needs to be paid upfront and for most.”
You will have some follow up instructions, please make sure you are taking notes because there won’t be a follow-up courtesy call and you will need to keep your file with all important documents together. all part of your responsibilities from now on. My recommendation: have a file per family member ready and organized this will make your life easy in many ways, especially, if you need to submit to your insurance carrier for reimbursement.
There is a long list of fine doctors in Delhi but you will have to deal with the system in which they operate.
My advice if you are visiting a Doctor at a Hospital or Clinic:
- Go with ample time. (Take into consideration traffic as Delhi is very chaotic depending on the time of the day and location)
- Ask where the doctor’s office is located at reception.
- Put your name on the waiting list
- Ask where you need to pay, usually called “Billing”
- Find out where to have your weight and blood pressure taken. This is usually required before seeing the doctor and this may be in a different area.
- Keep your bill with you at all times
- Go back to where you got your name listed or appointed.
- Ask how many more patients are ahead of you, so you have a rough idea.
- Have patience
Keep in mind that if you would need any other exams done after your visits (Ultrasound, X-ray) you will have to follow the steps all over again and make another appointment to go discuss the results with the doctor at another time and pay for another visit
If you are required to take a blood test, be aware that this also requires a new bill. Also ask where it can be done as sometimes it is not offered at the same facility
It should be somewhat like this for the most part and I hope this is helpful. I wish someone would have told me more before I had my first doctors visit. it would have saved me the frustration.
Another thing very common in India is multiple interruptions. You finally get to see the Doctor and within seconds the interruptions start. Forget about privacy, HIPAA, and anything as you will be interrupted no questions asked. Anyone can walk in and ask the doctor a question and this can be very distracting. This happened to me multiple times when I went to visit the OBGYN and it drove me crazy! I finally decided to write all my questions down before any visit so not to miss anything important. I also request the doctor for 10 minutes of no interruptions and his/her full attention.
Remember, there is no such thing as a quick call back, this is more like the wild west.
If you are pregnant and your husband travels a lot for work make sure you have your driver staying nearby or if your hubby is in town, make sure he knows how to get to the Hospital or Clinic. It’s better and faster to rely on your driver than to call an ambulance…this was the doctor’s suggestion for one of my ex-pat friends. Funny or not, this is the way things are so better to be prepared.
Ask as many questions as you may have, there is never too much when it comes to safety especially when you’re pregnant.
In case you need to go to the emergency ward, it’s always best to be accompanied by a good friend, your driver, or your housemaid. Your companion can pay the bill, collect the meds at the pharmacy or chemist of the hospital or clinic that will be administered.
Some hospitals will let you pay visits online before your appointment. Print your bill and take it with you the day of your appointment. It is some what a new system and I personally haven’t tried it this way. My advice, better to play it safe and pay at the facility the day of your appointment.
Having said all of the above, things have changed since CV19. Most hospitals and clinics now request payment online and virtual visits until they determine if you need to go to the hospital. Make sure to check with the designated hospital or clinic before your visit.