More on Medical Outsourcing

8 May ’05

The National Post has an article in this Saturday’s edition about medtourism to India. I’ve blogged this a few times, most recently here. The article is a nicely detailed piece on the development of medical offshoring in India, and the experiences of one B.C. man, in search of a new knee, in particular. Two quotes in particular caught my eye:

These are early days for MediTours. A few months ago, the company thought it had its first customer, a B.C. man waiting for knee surgery. But when the man told his doctor he planned to go to India, the MD promptly pushed him to the top of the list.

Exsqueeze me? It’s about threats? Waiting lists are about threats?

But more troubling:

There are plenty of people back home who disapprove of the Smiths’ decision [to obtain surgery in India]. Like Dr. Albert Schumacher, president of the Canadian Medical Association. He’s a critic of Canada’s long wait times, but he’s equally concerned about patients turning to foreign hospitals.

“The problem is that there are some 200-odd medical schools in India,” Dr. Schumacher says. “Some are probably very good. Some may not be very good. We have no ability to measure that.”

To clarify, Canadian patients should, apparently, not go to India for surgery because Canadian doctors are uneducated – OK, ignorant – about the quality of medical care there. OK, this is not entirely fair – medical care needs to be regulated, we understand. But if the Canadian healthcare industry and government can’t get on it, citizens will. Please, no more studies. Just get on it.

Schumacher’s comments do remind me of this quote, troubling for all the same wrong reasons, which I included in my recent post about legal outsourcing:

With the work being done in India becoming more sophisticated, some American attorneys are skeptical of American firms that use outsourced legal services. “I think a lawyer has a responsibility over his work and he just can’t delegate it,” said former ABA president Jerome Shestack, now the head of litigation at the Philadelphia firm of Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen. “The problem with outsourcing is, how do you keep control over it? How do you see how it’s being done?”

This is what happens, of course, when one tortures logic and evokes fear in order to serve one’s self-interest – common sense gets turned on its head. Patients and legal work are going to India because it makes sense. Legislators, doctors and lawyers who don’t understand why should educate themselves. Soon.

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