Our patients are going to India, Thailand, Singapore for treatment, even though we have many good doctors in the country. This is happening because most of the doctors do not give enough time to the patients and do not listen to the patient's problem properly.
That is why the patients are not satisfied with the service. Patients are going abroad because of this dissatisfaction, which is causing a huge economic loss.
It takes three to six months to get an appointment from most of the specialist doctors in our country. The patient's condition can be worsened during this time.
On the other hand, a prominent specialist doctor cannot give enough time to the patient as they see 30 to 60 patients. It takes 300 minutes or six hours to give 10 minutes to each of the 30 patients. But most doctors see 50-60 patients.
That is why you cannot give even five minutes to each patient.
Besides, junior doctors in specialist doctors' chambers listen to the patients' problems and examine the papers. Then the specialist doctor talks to the patient for one or two minutes.
As a result, most of the patients look dissatisfied after leaving the doctor's room. They see that even after paying Tk1,000 to Tk1,500 the doctors do not give details of the prescription. People have a tendency to follow the guidelines if they learn them from the doctors.
India has adopted this strategy. When a patient from Bangladesh goes to India, their doctors give more time and talk sincerely. When a Bangladeshi patient returns home, they tell their neighbours and relatives about their experience. As a result, their relatives also go to India for better treatment.
Sometimes, patients have to wait for a long time in the doctor's chamber when the doctor could not reach the chamber in time due to traffic jams, delay in regular practices, and official works in two or three places. Besides, there are also prayer breaks and tea breaks.
Sometimes, a patient who has an appointment at 7.00 pm is called at 9.00 pm. So, many people take advantage by paying money to the doctor's attendant which is unethical.
We have initiated a research titled "Why do people run to a reputable doctor and the way to get rid of it" where many patients said, "Why should I go to the junior doctor when I have to pay the money? I will go to the senior doctor."
Patients are all running after the famous doctors, so the pressure is increasing. It would be better if these doctors appoint FCPS students, assistant professors, and associate professors to treat the patients first. Then there would be no need to see more than ten to 12 patients for them. It could create a referral system even in private practices.
If a referral system was created in this way, the patient would not be able to reach the senior doctors without visiting the junior doctors. In that case the senior doctors could give more time to the selected patients.
For this, the patients would not hesitate to even pay Tk3,000 in place of Tk1,000. But this is not happening because the longer the patient's serial, the more expensive the doctor is to the pharmaceutical company.
No one wants to go to an MBBS doctor. As the number of their patients is not increasing, so their capacity will not develop. This will be true even when they will become professors. The government needs to work to increase patient satisfaction and the skills of junior doctors.
The Directorate General of Health Services does not have the power to control the private sector. However, the directorate has to discuss these problems to reach a solution.
Dr Syed Abdul Hamid is a professor at Institute of Health Economics, Dhaka University