If you’ve been in Israel more than 10 minutes you know that, by law, one major sector must always be on strike. Shockingly, this time it’s not going to be the garbage men, the dock workers, or the government clerks (although you never know). The next group set to strike is the doctors.
While the main argument is over money (bet you didn’t see that one coming), the doctors also want extra incentives for doctors to work in fields where there is a lack, namely, anesthesiology and pre-natal care. This seems logical; after all, a rise in salary would entice more doctors to enter into this field and would help the shortage in the hospitals.
Unfortunately, economically speaking, this plan is not viable in the short term. Incentives could only entice doctors who are only entering medical school. The prospective doctors would not actually be working in the field for several years. (I do not count doctors that leave for work abroad because I do not believe a marginal increase in pay would sway an anesthesiologist from the much higher salary he would still make abroad.) Logically, the government should only guarantee these extra incentives in 6 or 7 years, when the current perspective doctors will actually enter the field.
But another, more important option is not being mentioned in this debate. That option is to deal with the shortage via a computer system that would unite the current systems in the Kuppat Cholim and at the Hospitals. You see, while the computer system at your Kuppat Cholim is fantastic, and the one in the Hospitals is decent, there is no interaction between them. As a result, doctors waste much of their time piecing together information. I can tell you first hand that the overwhelming majority of time I have spent with my wife and the pre-natal physician was spent piecing information together.
And it’s such a shame. A few weeks ago, we spent literally 4 hours waiting for a couple of physicians to go through approximately 10 women in order to meet with us. And even then, the doctor was pushy and anxious to get to the next patient, so we did not receive her full attention. She spent most of her time asking my wife to find various papers and tests results and then did an ultrasound and gave a quick diagnosis.
If Israel were to have a national computer system that could combine medical files and speak to the different electronic systems, then the amount of time a pre-natal doctor spends with a patient could easily be halved. The shortage could be dealt with instantly, patients would be able to feel the results and misdiagnoses would drop. Of course this could not work with anesthesiologists or surgeons, but for doctors whose primary role is diagnostics, a new computer system would be the most effective way to improve Israel’s medical system.
So while the doctors stand on one side of the picket line and the government puts up a fight that we know will end in 3 weeks with them caving in, you and I should be rooting for a new computer system that will be a cross between Chuck and House.
Have you been in an Israeli Hospital? What do you think would improve the system?
PS – Have you ever noticed that people who strike in Israel don’t even go to a picket line? How lazy is that!?