Updated: Apr 18, 2020
I was recently in Muscat, Oman and my experience reinforced why Thailand is such a great place for medical tourism, or healthcare treatment in general.
We were staying at the W Hotel where a wedding was being held, and the bride wasn't feeling 100% so we went to the concierge to see what could be done to help her. It wasn't life threatening, but the girl wanted to be cared for by a medical professional to ensure that everything was fine, preferably at the hotel for her convenience. Essentially she was exhausted and all she wanted was an IV booster to give her energy.
Don't get me wrong, the concierge team at the hotel was helpful, but because it was a Friday morning in a predominantly Islamic state (Friday, Jumuʿah in Arabic, is the holy day for Muslims. Jumuʿah comes from the same root word as gather and congregation. On Fridays, Muslims attend a special prayer in the afternoon called the Jumuʿah prayer. You can find more information about this here), the in house medical team of the hotel was off duty and everyone we tried to call was either not answering or not available.
As the concierge team didn't have anyone in house to support, they recommended we call a few hospitals including Muscat Private Hospital. So the very helpful concierge staff dialed the hospital and when someone finally answered the person on the other end of the line said she will connect us to emergency as we called during prayer time and most of the staff including physicians were unavailable. We understood that and expected that because we were being put through to the ER that someone would answer our call within a few seconds, okay even a few minutes. Boy were we wrong. The concierge stayed on the line for almost 7 minutes and we were still on hold. At this point I told him to end the call and I will reach out to some of my own contacts in Muscat to see what can be done.
I got names of another hospital and two potential services which provide concierge/home care. The concierge at the W called all three numbers, and one was helpful. The person at the end of the line at the concierge care said they can arrange for an IV drip at the hotel if we can provide a doctor's note recommending it. As we didn't have access to a doctor at that time, we asked if she could suggest a doctor we could speak to that would be willing to come see the patient. She gave us a couple numbers but it was Friday afternoon so no one answered our calls. By now it had been more than two hours since we tried to find a solution for this dear girl and we hadn't made any progress.
I called my friend who lives in Muscat and she said the best thing to do would be to take her to the hospital and a doctor will treat her there. Luckily the girl had enough energy at this time to sit in a car for thirty minutes to get to the hospital. Once she reached the facility the service was great and she received the IV drip that she wanted and she felt better.
After all this, I had a chat with my friend who said it is these experiences that result in outbound medical tourism from Muscat to places like Bangkok. Had this situation occurred in Bangkok, we at Enliven would have been able to sort it out within an hour. Yes, it is true that we have the network here to make it happen, but it is also true that if you called the ER at one of the top JCI accredited hospitals in Bangkok it is extremely unlikely that you would have to wait more than 7 minutes for someone to take your call. Bangkok is accessible to all for medical care and we at Enliven are here to service you 24/7.
Written by Devi Bajaj
Executive Director of Enliven Concierge