Anecdotes on India’s Healthcare

Both of my children got sick while we were in India this trip so I got a chance to see the healthcare system in India at work. I made the trip to the doctor twice with my daughter.

Encounter 1.
My daughter got a fever on the night train and had stopped eating. The previous day she had a couple instances of diarrhea. I told the doc that i had been alternating doses of motrin and tylenol every 4 hours and that it was keeping the fever under control.

After a brief exam with a stethoscope, I was told to only give the tylenol and to start her on an anti-biotic for her stomach. Total: 80 Rs. Medicine included.

We were extremely concerned that an anti-biotic without any tests might not be the best option, but we took the advice on tylenol only.

Encounter 2.
Next day, daughter is still not eating and still showing some symptoms of fever. This time I had done a throat exam myself and knew there were swollen tonsils with some white cold sores in the back of her mouth. The doc was able to identify the throat problem easily but I wonder if it would have been identified if not for my own inspections.

Medicines were prescribed to help start eating again and help fight the infection. Total: 150 Rs. Medicine not included.

Takeaways.

  • Cost of care is very cheap.
  • Quality of care is suspect(anti-biotic prescription w/out any exams).
  • Waiting times were normal.
  • Payment was at time of care in cash.
  • Equipment was lacking

For me, the care i receive in the USA is hands down superior to what we received while in India. However, the cost to receive care in the Indian system is dramatically lower to the USA system.

Back From India

I’ve spent the past 2+ weeks in India for a family wedding. My wife’s birthplace is in Kerala, India and her sister chose to be married there so we packed the whole family up and travelled halfway across the globe.

While most of our trip was dedicated to visiting the family, we did find a little time to escape to munnar, walk the beach in nager coil, and a do a little shopping at Seemarti.

So here’s some of the things i’ve learned after 2 trips to india:

  1. Get a Driver
    For 1350 Rs./Night, we got a driver and an SUV with 80km included. 10Rs. per additional kilometer and our total expense under $40/day. This is an absolute steal and the additional comfort of a dedicated driver is worth every penny. I’d plan for one of these to pick
  2. Use the AC Night Train
    The roads are terrible. It takes 2-4 times as long to go anywhere by road in India as it does in the USA. If you are planning to go from state to state or any trip over 200km, i advise the night train or a plane. To get tickets on the AC night train, you have to book at least a week in advance, so set your itinerary and book your ride.
  3. Take Packaged Drinks
    If you don’t want to get sick, don’t drink their drinks. The packaged waters there(Aquafina, Himalaya, and Kingfisher) all checked out with me. The other waters, tap water, milk, juices, sodas, and anything with ice have all given my stomach trouble at one time or another.
    Horizon Organic Milk, Apple Juice, Orange Juice, and Gatorade will all be in my bags next trip. Each piece of checked-in luggage gets 50 lbs, weigh your bags and fill in the additional weight with fluids.

Some other things i’ve learned about travelling to kerala with an infant and a toddler:

  1. Pack N Plays fit inside a suitcase. We took one for each kid and without them we’d had to have had both kids in our beds or on the floors. Given the general cleanliness being much lower than i’m accustomed to, the floor is not an option.
  2. February is too Hot. Go in november, december, or january.
  3. Combat the barrage of spicy foods with a steady dose of snacks from home. My favorites are trail mix, beef and cheese, granola bars, and cheese crackers.
  4. Try the Fried Fish, http://bit.ly/clBGyU, it can be spicy but it’s worth it.

I may write some more on some of my favorite spots, where i might go next, and any of my other thousands of opinions after travelling in india again.

How To Stop Unwanted Solicitation of your Browsing History

I’ve known for awhile that the css :visited property on elements can allow me or others to detect whether or not a certain link has been visited by the user on the other end of a browser.

What I didn’t realize is that the browsers have already done things to help us out. If you can forego the need for links you’ve already visited to change color or background, then the safest option is to turn off visited links. What The Internet Knows About You describes both the underlying issue and some of the possible preventative measures. My favorite…

Firefox 3.5 users will be happy to learn that their browser has a configuration option which disables visited links. To enable it, type in about:config in the address bar and set the layout.css.visited_links_enabled option to False.

I’d much rather remember which links i visit, than have to discard my browsing history and lose the awesome bar.

Appengine + Django 1.1

So i got past my previous post with a different cell phone number. Now I know getting an appengine account is a more difficult than most online accounts. It makes sense too given free website hosting is at stake.

Anyhow, after a short time i was able to get django 1.1 up and running on appengine. For a little clarity, this provides all the glory of django templates, urls.py, middleware, forms, settings. But because of the big table db implementation of appengine, the admin tool, auth, session, and anything else built-in and dependent on django models will not work.

I found some other blogs that were close, but none of the step by steps worked for me. I followed instructions found at goole python libraries – django.

Since i learn best from code, I checked a basic project into github that i’ll continue to update on git as i make updates.

Browse the code on git.

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Back before Christmas, i made some chocolate chip cookies off that used pudding as an ingreadient. They were unbelievable! Don’t be scared by the pudding. The texture of these cookies was fantastic and they kept their moist deliciousness for two weeks.

You’re probably wondering…if they’re so good, why did it take two weeks to eat them? Well, my wife gave up sweets to prepare for christmas, so i saved her a few cookies. Nothing special to keep them, two weeks in a cookie jar and dropped them in a gift bag.

Enough already…here’s the recipe – Award Winning Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

I went for chocolate pudding and a little extra vanilla. Eat up!

HTC Hero Review

I’ve had the HTC Hero from Sprint for about a month now and i’ve had enough time to digest all the features.

Advantages:
1. Extremely well integrated with twitter, facebook, and flickr.
2. Very flexible customization with seven pages of personalized layout
3. No keyboard means lightweight and small (I’ve no problems using the touchscreen keyboard)
4. Phone, especially Speaker Phone, work better than my old LG phone.

Cons:
1. Shaky software. i.e. Alarm Clock crashes instead of alarming and calendar app crashes.
2. Advanced Task Killer App is needed to control usage and save battery life ( couldn’t android have a built in way to kill apps?)

All in all, I love this phone. My wife has the samsung moment and my preference is definitely for the hero over the moment.

I believe in Santa Claus

My wife and i had this debate a little before christmas so i’ll share my point of view.

The retail industry has made a mockery out of christmas and trumped up santa to the point where many people are stressed out, frustrated, and sick of christmas. Many Christian groups are calling for devout followers to give up the tradition entirely; i disagree.

Santa claus is a great metaphor for what Christmas is all about. Santa claus is God and the metaphor flows easily from there. All those tales about the naughty list and gifts of coal never pan out in the end. Santa brings gifts and glad tidings to all. Likewise, we christians believe that God gave his son to all, sinner and saint, that we may achieve salvation through him.

With this understanding, santa claus is a great tradition. It is unfortunate how often this goes overlooked and unless we teach our children this metaphor, santa will continue to be seen as just another part of the modern decadence.

Remember, all things in moderation.

Glimpses of the future of personal healthcare

I just wanted to mention a couple of websites that are doing positive things in the area of consumer health.

QuickenHealth, http://healthcare.intuit.com, is making it easy for consumers with a certain group of insuresrs, to track and manage their expenses. It helps clarify what, why, and when the insurer made or didn’t make payments on your behalf.

Patients Like Me, http://patientslikeme.com, makes it easy for people with some of the more acute conditions to collaborate with other patients like themselves online. For me, the ALS group would have been nice back when my family was going through a grandparent having the disaease.

Keas, http://keas.com, named after a strange bird, lets you integrate data from one of the major PHR’s and then manage your own health by selecting from a variety of care plans.

While none of these sites is completely solving the problem of health care, they are all forward thinking and are specific examples that could be cited for how health care is going to shift more and more to the responsibility of the patient. We will show up for our appointments more educated than ever before.