>Cultural Diversity and Bureaucracies

>If you asked any American about bureaucracy, they most likely think of “medical system!!!” How many times have you filled out pages of forms for each doctor you visit and perhaps each time you visit. How many bills have you tried to decipher? How many times have you had to call the insurance company to get approval for something or find out why something was not paid? I even get lost trying to find my way out of doctor’s offices, or confused trying to find the place you leave the stack of forms and pay the bill!

I am fascinated with how bureaucracies are focused in different areas in different culture. This week I had to go to the doctor in Hong Kong. I asked a friend how all this worked. She said to call the university clinic and see if I could get an appointment, or there were three walk in times a day–9 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 2:30 p.m. Imagine that, they plan their schedules for walk ins! I arrived at 11:15 ready to face a bureaucracy similar to getting to use the gym–courses, passport photo for special ID, etc. Here is what I encountered:

I had to show my university ID and they put a little sticker on it with my number for the clinic. To get this I had to fill out a little card with my name, address, and date of birth. they told me I would have to pay HK$150 for the consultation (about $20 US). The person at the window had me lean over and she took my temperature right there by using an ear thermometer. I had no temperature so I got to sit on the non-isolation part of the room, but did have to wear a face mask. Soon they called me up and gave me a form for the doctor and told me to go to room 4–easy to find because it had a big #4 on it. I didn’t have a nurse escort me. I opened the door and the doctor was there in the room. A nurse didn’t weigh me for my sore ear or measure my height, or have to lead me to a room. The doctor looked in my ears, asked me some questions, wrote information on the form I had brought in and told me to put the form in the slot by window 3–easy to find. He was ordering anti-biotics for me and window 3 included a pharmacy. He also said they would give a letter so that if I wasn’t better in 5 days I would have the referral I need to go to an ENT nearby. After putting things in the slot, I waited 5 minutes, got my medicine (at no extra cost), and my referral letter–no need to come back if I didn’t get better. Total time? 30 minutes. Life expectancy in Hong Kong–one of highest in the world.

I have found that the face mask causes your glasses to fog up.

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