Japanese hospitals are like healing factories. Everybody stands on a large conveyor belt, and when it’s your turn, the doctor takes out the broken part and replaces it with a new part. No, really.
Well, maybe not, but my general impression of a Japanese hospital wouldn’t be very different if things were actually done this way. Coming from countryside Holland, I’m used to going to a little building from time to time to always see the same doctor, who has seen me grow up from baby to adult. The ‘house doctor’ is the expert on everything and can treat you for a lot of things. It’s only when you break an arm or a leg that you’ll need to go the ‘real’ hospital.
In Atsugi there are no such small clinics. Instead, the clinic I’ve visited a couple of times is about the size of an average hospital in the Netherlands. It’s all very organized. Basically the procedure is like this: enter clinic, tell the receptionist what’s wrong, receive a paper with your doctors location and instructions on how to get there, and you’re off. Once arriving at the doctor’s room, you’ll have to wait outside for anywhere between 1 minute and 1000 minutes, after which you can enter, tell him what’s wrong, and get treated. The doctor then proceeds to give you directions to the check-out desk, where you have to return the papers that the receptionist gave you.
On your way back, you deposit the papers at a desk next to the reception. Then you have to wait again between 1 minute and 1000 minutes. When they finally call your name it’s your turn to pay. You will get your receipt, and sometimes a prescription for medicine. The cashier gives you directions on how to get to the pharmacy (step out the door, turn right, walk through the other door), and off you go again. At the pharmacy, deliver the prescription paper to the pharmacy receptionist, and wait anywhere between 1 and 1000 minutes until your name is called out, and you can pick up your medicine.
Note the efficiency and the lack of real human interaction in this system. After telling the receptionist what’s wrong, you basically don’t need to make any effort to communicate with anyone else. The receptionist will write a description of your problem on the paper that you give to the doctor, so that eliminates 90% of the talking already. During the treatment, payment and medicine pickup all you have to do is listen, follow the instructions, and jump through hoops. Like a robot. Or a dog. Or a robot dog.
I kind of like Japanese hospitals.