Lessons in Hospital Administration

Everybody knows I'm a multitasker -- or at least I try to be. My job -- and my passion -- is my main occupation, which is being an ophthalmologist. I am also trying to be a good mom to my 3 year old and a good wife, daughter and friend. In addition to that, I have a small online business on the side and I blog. Last but not least, I am a student, taking up a Distance Learning Course at UP Open University, hoping to get my Master's in Hospital Administration.

I love this course since it shows me the more practical side of health care management. You know, we never had subjects that deal with how to manage our practice when we were in Medical school. We mostly dealt with the science and art of the human body and trying to maintain good health and trying to heal. But until I actually set up practice, I never knew how expensive it is to have a good health care system. I used to be one of those people who criticized the hospitals for "overpricing" and trying to earn from the "unfortunate patients".

The truth of the matter is -- it IS expensive to run a hospital. All those nurses, all those medical, office, and maintenance personnel in all the departments, both medical and non-medical -- the hospital has to pay them salaries. Even if it were minimum wage (which it sometimes is not), multiply that by the number of employees -- that's the amount that the hospital has to shell out -- and which it has to pass on to its customers, the patients. They also have to deal with utilities like electricity, water etc. Look at your utility bills at home, multiply that by the size of the hospital, and maybe you can get a rough estimate of how much the hospital has to shell out.

Of course, the hospital has to obtain important medical equipment and to keep up with the times. These equipment are expensive, especially if they are brand new, some of them running into the millions of pesos. Sure, if there were enough patients, the machines would eventually earn, but if there are not enough patients, there is a possibility that it won't be able to pay for itself in the long run. Some hospitals, especially the smaller ones, try to save some money by buying used medical equipment instead of brand new ones. As long as they are still in good working condition, refurbished medical equipment may still be used for the basic procedures that are needed in the hospital. Some hospitals who need duplicate equipments, i.e., more of the same equipment, for example, EKG machines, buy one brand new unit and maybe several more used EKG machines so that they can be used simultaneously on several patients.

About hospitals being money makers? What most people don't realize is that privately owned hospitals DO have to earn some money because they also have a responsibility to their stockholders. Even government hospitals have to earn money in order to survive, since government subsidy does not cover all the hospitals' needs. A hospital which does not earn will not survive at all, and in the end, nobody benefits. Unfortunately for the hospitals, they do have to earn from sick people, but then that's what they're there for anyway.

Just some food for thought the next time you complain about the hospital. We NEED hospitals, and the money you pay for services would ensure that the hospital has a greater chance of surviving.

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