This worldschooling journey has opened up all kinds of unconventional experiences for us. A simple question or interest can lead to an in-depth, open investigation of sorts, which can then lead to some serious plotting, which can then result in hopping on a plane and flying across the world for a doctor’s visit.
This was the case for Bridgette and I back in September, when we traveled all the way to Bangkok, Thailand for our annual exams. Why so crazy? Well, it started with a discussion on why the medical system in the U.S. is unjust, followed by some research on what the medical system is like in other countries, which then took us down this rabbit hole of reading all about medical tourism in Thailand, which resulted in us booking a ticket there for our annual exam. This is worldschooling at its core– interest driven learning which involves a ton of reading and research, followed by a hands-on experience so that we can learn some more in context.
Our initial findings had told us that Bangkok is one of the most popular places for medical tourism in the world because of its high standards in accreditation, its attentive service, and its world class facilities. We decided to book our exams at the Bumrungrad Hospital, due to its exceptional global reputation, and that fact that it was among Southeast Asia’s first recipients of the United State’s prestigious Joint Commission International (JCI) certification, the gold standard for healthcare service providers around the world.
The process in figuring out which exam package would work best for us, booking the exam dates/times, and then making some changes along the way was extremely smooth and painless. Email was the main source of communication, and the response time from the staff at Bumrungrad was always within 24 hours. I booked the Comprehensive Check Up for women over 40, and Bridgette booked Healthy Child Package + the Allergy Package.
Because Bumrungrad Hospital focuses so much on its medical tourism business, they even have shuttles that can take patients straight from the airport to the hospital. We heard that some patients literally fly into Bangkok in the morning, get their check up done, and then fly back home in the evening! For us, we ofcourse made a whole trip out of it to explore Bangkok, so we didn’t take advantage of the shuttle service. Instead, we booked 7 nights at the Aloft Hotel, which was just a short walk to/from the hospital.
The minute we entered the lobby of Bumrungrad, it was clear why it had earned such a prestigious reputation. It felt like we walked into a 5 star luxury hotel instead of a hospital. The place was impeccable, exceeded only by the superb service that we received from every staff member there. Here in the States, we’re so use to long lines, long wait times, and a lot of bouncing around when it comes to medical appointments, but at Bumrungrad, there was none of that. We were sat down immediately for a personal registration process (similar to the type of experience you get in the States when opening a private bank account) and then directed to another floor to begin the process.
Since Bridgette was still considered a minor, I needed to accompany her to her check up, which meant we couldn’t simultaneously do our check ups at the same time. So, while she kept herself preoccupied in the waiting area, I began my extensive 4 hours check up!
First, I was shown to a locker room that resembled the ones you’d see at a spa. Inside my locker were slippers, a hospital gown, and a complimentary wrap in case I got cold. Once I changed into my hospital outfit, the next 2 hours went by quickly. I got my vitals taken, then blood test, urine test, ultrasound, xray, mammogram, pap smear, eye exam, and so on. When I finished with one test, I would immediately be directed to the next station for the following test. There were so many staff on site that I’d always be helped the minute I finished one test and was ready to move on to the next. And there were hardly any wait time in between the tests. I probably waited at most for 5 minutes at one point.
After all the pertinent tests were done, the staff knew I would be famished as I had been fasting for about 16 hours by that point. They then took me to this area where there was a beautiful spread of food catered by the JW Marriott. Talk about first class service!
When I finished indulging in the buffet, the doctor was already prepared to see me with all my test results. Efficiency is clearly not a problem at the Bumrungrad!
My doctor was a young, friendly woman who studied in the States, so she spoke fluent English. She was extremely thorough as she explained all my test results to me, and was also very patient in answering all my questions. Fortunately for me, my reports showed that I was healthy, with just a bit too much lipid in my liver, which meant I would need to cut back on sugar and carbs. 🙁 I also got to see a gynecologist and eye doctor as well during my visit, and both were equally friendly and thorough.
At the end of my nearly 4 hour check up, my full health report was ready to be emailed to me for my record. I was in pure disbelief at the efficiency of this hospital! I paid about USD $900 for everything, which is just a tiny fraction of what it would’ve costed in the States.
Bridgette’s check ups were a lot simpler, due to her age. She got her vitals taken, blood drawn, urine sample collected, and then an eye exam at the very end. I also scheduled a consultation for her with an allergist. The kids’ floor was definitely more busy, but the wait time was still minimal because they were so well staffed.
All in all, the Bumrungrad exceeded our expectations entirely, and we would highly recommend them to anyone who’s interested in seeking medical care abroad. We plan to go back every 2 years or so for our health check ups, and Alan’s eager to go with us next time. I think he secretly just wants an excuse to have street food in Thailand, haha!