Friday, December 04, 2020

Compare and contrasty

Sometimes it’s hard to avoid comparing and contrasting things, places, whatever. When we move to a new town, the comparisons are inevitable. Sometimes, though, those comparisons are about far more than mere place.

This morning I got my blood test results, and they were basically fine, which isn’t unusual. What was remarkable was how quickly I got the results—much faster than I ever got in Auckland.

Yesterday afternoon, I went to get blood tests that were needed before my medical procedure next week, and I finally also got some done that were ordered by the cardiologist I saw privately in mid October. That was a little before 2pm (which I know because I used the Covid Tracer App when I got there).

The email telling me the results were ready arrived at like 8:30 this morning. When I lived in Auckland, it always took two to three days to get test results, not mere hours. On Facebook, I speculated on why that might me:
This could be because the testing company used here in the Waikato is more efficient or even better than the one used in Auckland. Or, maybe it’s a smaller population and/or the fact I was in Hamilton, and not further afield. It could also be that the electronic reporting is faster here. And, of course, Auckland may be better now than it was when I had my last blood tests done with them in July.
It’s probably a blend of all those things. Testing in the Waikato is done by a company called Pathlab. According to its website’s “About” page:
Pathlab is a New Zealand owned and operated pathology service provider and has modelled our business on meeting the needs of our customers. We currently provide pathology services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, servicing over 4,500 patients per day.
It was originally formed in Tauranga in 1958, and the company is now the result of various mergers.

In Auckland, lab tests are provided by an Australian-owned company called Labtests, owned by Melbourne, Australia-based Healthscope. The company took over pathology lab tests in Auckland when it made a lower bid that than the existing provider, Diagnostic Medlab, in 2008. The changeover might be called a disaster (I certainly did at the time), with the new company unable to deliver services quickly or efficiently, leading to the resignation of Labtest’s CEO the following year.

Diagnostic Medlab, meanwhile, mounted court challenges that ultimately failed, and in 2013 the company’s Australian parent company, Sonic Healthcare, announced that they were quitting Auckland the following year. They barely have a New Zealand presence at the moment.

I don’t have any way of knowing if Pathlab is quantifiably better (unlikely) or just more efficient (possible) than Labtests was, but what I do know is that the service I received was outstanding. And, if I’m truly honest, I feel better knowing that my tests were done by a New Zealand-owned company because I try, whenever I can, to buy products and services from New Zealand companies to help with our economy recover from Covid. I don’t have any choice in what company is used—the exclusive contracts are signed by the DHBs—so this is really just something that’s nice, not something that’s within my control [full disclosure: In 2008 I was on Medlab’s “side”, but when the changeover was complete I never had any complaint with Labtests services, which were always good; I just didn’t know the results could be delivered faster].

This awesome service—so much better than in Auckland—came just a day after I found out that dental services, specialist dental services in particular, are harder to get in Hamilton than they were in Auckland—or, at least, Auckland’s North Shore (I think, but don’t know for sure, that dental services are better in the wealthier parts of Auckland since such services aren’t part of our national healthcare system—yet—so practitioners may well go where the money is). Since yesterday I was implicitly comparing and contrasting dental services in the two cities, it’s only fair that I do the same with other medical services.

Ultimately, what I know for sure is that it was bloody fast (so to speak…) service, and I think that’s pretty great. Takes a worry off me, too, with the procedure only days away.

As for the tests themselves, everything was normal except for one thyroid measure that was high (caused by one of my prescriptions), and my clotting factors were abnormal (due to the blood thinner I’m on, of course). That second test allows them to know how much anti-clotting drug they’ll need to give me when they do the procedure (so it’s not too much or too little).

I share all this because it’s an example of something that’s definitely better here in Hamilton than what I experienced in Auckland, and also because I was really happy about it. Also, it’s always good to correct any impression I may inadvertently have created that healthcare services in Hamilton aren’t “as good” as in Auckland. In fact, the two are just different from each other, in both good and bad ways.

At any rate, I’m now one step closer to the procedure next week!

This is a revised and greatly extended version of something I posted to my personal Facebook earlier today.


Roger Owen Green said...

So are dancing around to Pharrell Williams, I assume.

Arthur Schenck said...

No, I'm not supposed to exert my heart. ๐Ÿ˜‰