For many years, the rights of the doctor and his patients have been slowly but surely eroded away by the big business of medicine.
The many new laws and regulations are stifling the practice, the art and the humanity of our work. The MCOs (managed care organisations), TPAs (third-party administrators) and their likes in the business of medicine with their single-minded pursuit of profit have changed the landscape.
Their SOPs, GLs (guarantee letters), membership cards, exclusion clauses, pre-approval before treatment, unilateral denial of payment for honest work done and the many other administrative hurdles are creating major divide between the good doctor and his patient.
Today, it makes good sense to be in the largely under-regulated business of medicine rather than to be the practitioner in the over-regulated practice of medicine. For the patient, costs have escalated, but choice and access to care have gone the other way.
In these times, doctors and their patients find themselves swept aside by this unstoppable tide of change. There is a sense of helplessness in the fraternity. Is there nothing that we, the doctor in the house can do? Certainly not.
It is now more than two years since the takeover by the Pakatan government. It is time for those elected to walk their talk.
It is also time for doctors and their patients to empower themselves with this voice out for the change that they voted for. If we see something that is not right, let’s whisper, talk and engage with our patients. They are the people that matter in present and future health care policies.
It is time again to support the call for a Royal Commission on Healthcare in Malaysia that was recently proposed at the Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Oration, Ministry of Health/Academy of Medicine Malaysia (MOHAM) Congress 2017.
The distinguished orator, Datuk Dr Yeoh Poh Hong, was certainly not wrong when he presented the facts and figures (ironically sourced from MOH studies itself) to support the call for a Royal Commission for the objective to seek holistic solutions for the future of Malaysian health care.
Health care is a basic right of the rakyat and not a commodity to be bought and sold in the normal marketplace. Health care policies and decisions must encompass the views of the doctor and their patients and not just those dressed in business suits secretly huddled around financial spreadsheets in corporate boardrooms around the country.
Dr Steven KW Chow is president of the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Associations Malaysia (FPMPAM).
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.