Western Healthcare Systems Could Really Learn some Lessons
While I was in Brazil, I had the opportunity to follow a good friend to some doctor appointments. This presented a unique opportunity. I could get an insight into how Brazilians experience their own healthcare system. And also have an exchange about what I notice with western eyes. The ensuing debate my friend and I had, was interesting.
First of all, all healthcare systems have strengths and weaknesses. But I will double down on that universal healthcare is a human right. Even though, there are some U.S. citizens who disagree with me. That is for another post.
For now, I will compare observations and experiences from Brazil and Europe.
Healthcare Services Are More Decentralized
On at least two occasions, we passed by some central laboratories. This is a difference between Brazil and Europe. In both Denmark and Germany, it is your own doctor, who does most of the work. If he needs a blood sample, he will tap it right there. Then he will send the specimen for analysis.
In some cases, your doctor will refer you to a specialist for further treatment. That specialist takes over. I have experienced many times, that my own doctor has no idea what happened at the specialist.
In Brazil, it seems to work the other way around. The primary care doctor seems to be the coordinator. He will send you to one of the central laboratories. In those laboratories, they take your blood, urine, EKG, or whatever your doctor ordered. After that, the results end up with your primary care doctor again.
This has some advantages in my opinion. First of all, it ensures that your primary care doctor knows YOU. He knows your history. My friend told me, that consultations can often last a very long time. In Europe, they always last 15 minutes. That is the standard rate, the doctors charge the insurance. I have often felt, that 15 minutes is far too little to actually do an exam or get to the bottom of my issues.