Rs 4400 for a complete health checkup – that is the price of an executive package at the Apollo hospital in Delhi. It looked too good to be true for someone like me that had paid $125 (~Rs 6000) just for my grandma to consult with a physician in the US recently. The checkup included an ECG and TMT for the heart, and ultrasound of the abdomen, blood test galore, an x-ray, doctor consultation and wellness counseling. My mother was visiting the hospital for her one year checkup. A brain aneurysm last Feb had put a lot of fears into us and besides the scheduled angiogram we though a full body checkup would be good. So, we signed up for the executive package.
Step 1 – Call up for an appointment.
|Executive Health Checkup Includes|
all this minus echocardiography and SGOT
(a liver function test)
It was late in the evening, It had been a long day at the hospital I called to make an appointment. The guy on the line was a smartass – to put it politely. I went along with his first few retorts then he asked me for my mom’s patient id. “AF123…” I read out. “What kind of a number is that?” was a super-fast retort. “What do you mean I asked?” “It sounds like an old weird number, what kind of a number is it?” I had had enough. He got an earful about him working for the hospital that hands out such numbers and going and having a talk with his employers about weird old numbers they hand out. A minute later I had an appointment for the next morning.
Step 2 – Show up for the appointment
You pay when you show up. That means – stand in line at the information counter to be told to go to counter 23, to be told to go to counter 21 for billing, return to counter 23 for invoice then go to counter 25 and listen to three people argue and grumble about their bill before paying.
Step 3 – Nurses Evaluation
Smooth and easy, they take your weight and medical history and give you hope for the rest of the process.
Step 4 Realizing you are number 8 and number 18
After the nurse is done with you she write room numbers against each test you are due for and leads you to the first one – blood collection room. Here you find out you are number 8 in line and should sit till you are called. You sit and count seventeen people go into the room before you lose your patience. As you enter the room to ask it is magically your turn. It seems you were number eighteen.
Step 5 Grit and Repeat
At this point you realize a lot of people bought the executive package and the smartass appointment guy told everyone to show up at 10am. Many of the package buyers are foreigners with translator so an extra pinch of chaos is added. Most patients are hungry – empty stomact for some tests – and edgy. You learn to navigate the line and in some case even cut the line. You speak in Hindi in a demanding, assertive yet polite tone. You do this for six tests before it is 1pm and time for lunch.
Step 6 Why oh Why?
The next test requires that the patient have eaten two hours prior so there is a two hour break after lunch. There are cafeterias and the package includes a ‘breakfast/lunch’ coupon. We kill time over cups and tea and return back to the second floor. At the first look I was scared they were done for the day. It was empty. The crowd from 10am had vanished. The rest of the tests were a breeze. Almost no waiting lines with relaxed unhurried attendants. You wonder why they called you at 10am. I suspect this being India they called people from 8am on and everyone showed up at 10am but after years of this they should know this by now. Why did they call us at 10am? Why oh why?
Step 7 – Appointment for the next day
You are to come back the next day to get your results and consult with a doctor. This time the appointment is done in person. This time you are smarter. You ask the nurses what a good time of the day is. You take a 4pm appointment.
Step 8 – Four pm means five thirty pm
We were fifteen minutes late getting to the appointment. I was hoping we would not get bumped off the list. Well the doctor was an hour and a half late so it all evened out I guess.
On the positive front all the test results were ready and he spent a great deal of time going over the results. On the very positive personal front all tests results were good and that meant my mom was healthy – this also meant not coming back to the hospital.
Step 9 – Wrapping up
Like the initial nurse station experience this was great. All notes were typed up in timely manner and given in a nice carry bag by chirpy assistants. You almost felt like the chaos and waiting never happened.
Long story short-
It is a great package for the price you pay – the tests are great and doctors good. Just be ready for an unready staff and chaos that you have to personally navigate through. Or, be smart and ask for an afternoon appointment or show up a couple of hours late.