We’re walking…We’re walking...

By David L. Weiss, MD, Carilion Clinic and Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Roanoke, VA
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Dr. Weiss is Physician Coordinator, Imaging Informatics at Carilion Clinic and Associate Professor of Radiology at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. He is a member of the Applied Radiology Editorial Advisory Board.

Attending a medical informatics meeting in Orlando is a study of antipodes: At the conference, an industry in early death throes, collapsing of its own weight and bent double by the crushing imposition of exponentially burdensome government regulations.

In the theme parks, there is an expanding and breathtaking entertainment conglomerate limited only by the vision and ingenuity of its management and employees. Many industries have been able to respond creatively to financial challenges with, for example, additional fees, behind-the-scenes tours, licensed collectibles, and lotteries. Were healthcare to attempt similar projects, it would likely precipitate angry mobs wielding pitchforks and lighted brands. Nevertheless, relaxing on the return flight, I enjoyed a hopeful reverie…

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to HealthWorld Medical Center and Theme Park. We ask that you keep hands and feet inside the wheelchairs at all times. I will be serving as your guide, and before we begin the tour, I would like to give you a short history of HealthWorld. The medical facility we will be visiting today closed its doors in 2012, along with most other U.S. hospitals, shortly after the government healthcare overhaul. It also fell victim to the billions of dollars spent on the ill-fated electronic medical record (EMR) implementation attempts of the past half decade. The campus deteriorated over the last several years as it lay abandoned, a time when most Americans who could afford it sought their healthcare overseas. The property was purchased and renovated in 2015 by the Meditainment Corporation. Meditainment got its start in the early part of this decade producing medical reality television shows and has since moved on to “live” health-related amusement.

Have your tickets ready as we approach patient registration. Be careful as you de-chair, and please don’t forget to tip your orderly. We will need to stay together as a group at all times. Our first exhibit is the emergency department (also known as the ER). Those wishing to visit the ER Pavilion should join the line to your right. The wait time from here is approximately 2 hours. It seems a bit long, but that’s nothing compared to what actual patients have to endure. We try to time our patient arrivals so that each group gets to observe at least one major trauma case. Be aware that those in the front rows may get a bit spattered. Protective gown rentals are available at the entrance to the tram for $2.

The rest of you, we’re walking... we’re walking... Adjacent to the ER is the radiology department and to your left is our newest attraction — The CT Scan Experience. Here you will be treated to a genuine personal CT scan of your entire body. You may pick up a complimentary image of your internal organ of choice at the end of the tour. For an extra $5, we will mount this image in a lovely souvenir keychain. For $20, you can purchase a full set of your images bound in a flipbook. Do not take this ride if you are pregnant or under the age of 12.

Okay people, we’re walking... we’re walking... The dark area we are passing is the radiology reading room. Please, no flash photography. This is where radiographic images from around the hospital are interpreted. Oh look, there in the back. Two radiologists are fighting over a case. This type of aggressive behavior is common among members of this specialty, particularly those in captivity. Just last week I had to use my tranquilizer gun to break up a heated debate. Very unfortunate — those are 4 hours of physician productivity we will never get back. Please refrain from making any loud noises in this section. It can affect the speech recognition software used by the radiologists, which makes them angry. For your own personal safety, don’t reach through the bars of the cage. And, of course, no feeding the talent. We keep our radiologists on a strict diet of caffeine and doughnuts to maximize output.

We’re walking... we’re walking... Please stay together. This is one of our most popular exhibits, the Surgical Theater. Patients who agree to undergo surgery here receive a voucher for a 20% discount on their next hospital visit and a one-year season pass to the park. Let’s stop for a moment to observe this operation. Keep your surgical masks on and try not to contaminate the sterile field. You can see that the surgeon has already incised the abdominal wall. I believe those sausage-like structures are the patient’s small intestine. The scrub nurse is telling me that the bulging purple mass the doctor is holding is an enlarged spleen. In the glass case behind you is a collection of diseased organs and other interesting objects removed from our patients, priced as marked. Oh dear, stand back people. Be careful not to step in that. Don’t be embarrassed, ma’am, this happens at least once a day. Housekeeping, Code Ralph, surgery 5. Code Ralph, surgery 5.

Moving along now. We’re walking... we’re walking... Straight ahead is our Outcomes Casino. Here patients, family, friends, and even perfect strangers can make book on length of stay and chance of survival. You’ll notice that the handicapping board lists patients only by room number to comply with HIPAA regulations. There is no house stakes limit and the wagering can become quite animated. C’mon 467 South, baby needs new shoes. The casino has participation agreements in place with all specialties except cardiology. They are holding out for a higher percentage of the vig.

Okay folks, we’re walking... we’re walking... The construction area in front of you will soon be our newest ride — Anaconda. This simulator will take you on a fantastical voyage at the business end of a virtual colonoscope, dodging malignant polyps, and navigating over fissured and cobblestoned mucosa. The ride will replace our Urology Clinic and Waterpark, forced to close last year at the insistence of an overzealous health department inspector. Anaconda had been scheduled to open last month, but it needs just a bit more preparation.

At the end of this colossal attraction, you will be debouched to the cafeteria entrance. We will pause 30 minutes here so you might enjoy a light bite and sample the same fare that our patients receive. Our new chef has prepared some very nice low-sodium and clear liquid meals for your dining pleasure. Don’t forget to try his world-famous lime Jell-O dessert. Standard lunch is included in the price of your admission; however, many of our visitors and patients prefer the premium meal plan, available for a small additional fee.

Over here now. We’re walking... we’re walking... The large building to your right is our Malpractice Jamboree. Here you can watch real physicians on trial with their entire careers at stake. If you’re lucky, you might be selected from the studio audience as an actual juror. Malpractice Jamboree is sponsored by the American Trial Lawyers Association. Tomorrow is a special event — the induction of former Senator John Edwards into the Plaintiff Attorney Hall of Fame. It should be a very moving ceremony.

We are now approaching our final attraction. Ahead of us is a working patient floor. Hey, hands off that medication cart young man. All of our drugs will be available for purchase in the gift shop at the end of the tour. Those of you who signed up for the Gurney Journey Inpatient Excursion should stop here. Give all your belongings to the nurse, and she will dress you in a hospital gown for the night.

Ladies and gentlemen, this completes our tour. You will be exiting through the hospital gift shop. As I mentioned, drugs are available for purchase here as well as scrub suits, surgical masks, and emesis basins, all tastefully emblazoned with the HealthWorld logo. Please don’t forget to pick up your complimentary CT images on the way out. On behalf of the Meditainment Corporation, I would like to thank you for visiting with us today. HealthWorld is the company’s flagship property, and thanks to Meditainment’s innovative business model is currently one of very few viable health centers in the nation. We hope that one way or another you will be returning soon to HealthWorld Medical Center and Theme Park, the Sickest Place on Earth.

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We’re walking…We’re walking....  Appl Radiol. 

August 30, 2011

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