According to the Health Ministry, in 2007 more than 100,000 Indonesians went abroad to seek medical assistance. Indonesians have especially visited Singapore, Malaysia and China over the last 10 years.
Approximately, Indonesian patients have contributed more than US$600 million to those countries every year since 2003.
Moreover, former Indonesian Medical Association president Fahmi Idris in 2008 stated that in 2010 Singapore would gain $2 million from Indonesian patients’ pocket. There are several reasons why more Indonesian citizens travel abroad for medical care.
One answer is hospitals in foreign countries provide the best medical service and professionalism. Patients can receive proper medical care in a short time.
In one day, patients can know the result of an examination. The length of stay for patients depends on their condition, not by a hospital’s financial motive.
Furthermore, the workload of doctors is also different. Doctors in other countries only work in one hospital or health center. In Indonesia the doctor works in many.
In addition, in foreign countries, patients are free to ask anything about their diseases, the examination and therapy process.
Doctors will answer it clearly. Patients may question the competence of doctors without worrying about offending them.
On the contrary, there are stories on how hospitals in Indonesia may be cutting edge high rise buildings, but their medical services are below average. Patients in the hospital for several days are referred to another hospital due to lack of facilities. As another example, patients are prescribed medicine without knowing why. Patients stay longer than usual in hospital.
There are many Indonesian doctors who practice late into the night with many patients. Moreover, the gap between Indonesian doctors and their patients is wide. Doctors still think that their position is higher than their patients, so they do not care about their patients’ needs or privacy; this problem affects communication between doctors and their patients.
According to the director general of medical care at the Health Ministry, Farid W. Husain, there are
three factors that a good hospital should possess; hospitality, high-end technology and professional human resources.
There is something that enables Singapore and other countries’ medical services to provide better quality aid than Indonesian medical services. Maybe the problem is not in health technology, because the health technology in Indonesia is the same as other Southeast Asian countries. Maybe there are problems with Indonesian doctors’ hospitality and professionalism.
But that is not the point, the real point is Indonesian doctors do not trust their people. Healthcare
specialists are like any other professionals, this job needs the trust from its client. Indonesian doctors should change their attitude so clients trust them.
Furthermore, the Asian Free Trade Area is a reality, and many foreign doctors will work in Indonesia. It is the time for Indonesian doctors to change.
A doctor is not perceived as a king or God, a doctor is a professional who must provide the best services to his or her patients. This is a challenge that must be answered to prevent Indonesian doctors’ dignity shattering into pieces.
Since 2008, Indonesia implemented a new medical practice act. Our country already has a council that regulates, watches, and maintains the quality of Indonesian doctors. In 2009, this council, known as the Indonesian Medical Council, stipulated that every doctor should have a standard level of competence before they practice.
Besides that, communication and empathy skills are now being introduced in the Indonesian medical school curriculum. We should see the result in the following years.
In addition, there should be a reform in our medical structure. Nowadays, there are 50,000 doctors in Indonesia’s health system. Doctors are not alone in the health system, there are 2.4 million nurses, 232,000 pharmacists, 294,000 laboratory technicians, 121,000 paramedics, and 85,000 dietitians.
Almost 70 percent of people in Indonesia do not have health insurance. They must pay for medical services. The doctors must be thorough when determining what medication is suitable within the patient’s budget. In the health insurance plan, people must first see their GPs before they are referred to a specialist.
The salary for general physicians will be paid by the government from the health insurance budget. Doctors are trying to encourage people to live healthier lives to cut medical treatment costs and focus on health insurance plans.
This will also prevent doctors cheating the pharmacy industry to get bonuses by prescribing their drugs. The patients will also receive proper medicine.
Indonesian doctors should change their attitude and improve their competence to make more people trust in their quality service. On the other hand, Indonesian people should also trust their doctors.