Timely Treatment Heals Heart Disease Missed for Years

By That's Shanghai, June 13, 2019

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Anne Guest, a 58 year-old U.K. citizen, has been living and working in Shanghai as an international school teacher for the past two years. This past January, she returned from a holiday in Sri Lanka with what she thought was a cold with a chest cough. On a friend’s recommendation, she went to see family doctor, Dr. Frank Morris-Davis at SinoUnited Health, for her condition.

Heart Issues Picked up in a Cough Consultation

After questioning Guest, Dr. Morris-Davis learned she had shortness of breath at night and mild chest pressure. In the physical examination, he found a loud murmur at the apex of her heart, which did not sound like an innocent murmur. “I was told I had a heart murmur when I was a teenager,” Guest said. “All the previous doctors said it was nothing serious, so I didn’t pay much attention to it.”

However, Dr. Morris-Davis thought further heart tests were needed to determine if the murmur was a sign of any abnormality. The result of ECG proved his suspicion that Guest had issues with her heart. The doctor immediately called in Dr. Kathy Shi, the chief of Cardiology, for a more detailed diagnosis.
Dr. Frank Morris-Davis (left) and head cardiologist Dr. Kathy Shi (right). Image courtesy of SinoUnited Health

Dr. Shi did thorough echocardiography for Guest, in which she diagnosed her with Atrial Septal Defect (ASD), meaning the patient’s heart’s right atrium and ventricle was enlarged with moderate TR (tricuspid regurgitation). “An ASD repair surgery is needed to control the condition, or your heart will continue to enlarge and may experience irreversible heart failure,” Dr. Shi told Guest. 

Guest was shocked by the news, as she had never been told she had heart problems in the past. Now a big surgery seemed unavoidable. To ease her mind and give her more information, Dr. Shi arranged a meeting at the clinic, where Guest and her husband met with an experienced surgeon. 

Family-Style Care 

“Talking to the surgeon was a really reassuring,” Guest said. “I learned how experienced they are, which gave me a great deal of confidence for the surgery. The surgeon also made me feel like it was not going to be an enormous life-changing horrible event. I was reassured that I would be in good hands.” Guest and her family made the decision to have the surgery.

Guest’s insurance company, MSH, accepted the claim and the surgery procedure was scheduled to be done at Zhongshan Hospital mid-March. Nava Chen, a customer care specialist from SinoUnited Health provided chaperon services for transferred patients. She assisted the patient during the whole procedure, from arranging her admission, assisting with doctor-patient communication and working with the discharge process to arranging her follow-up visit.

“Nava’s help was really valuable to us because when you are ill, you feel quite vulnerable,” Guest added. “It was very important for me to understand what was going on. Nava did an excellent job as the coordinator and interpreter between me and the hospital. She also ordered food for me, and reminded me of all the processes. She was like a family member.”

According to Dr. Shi, such customer care services are in line with the company’s core values of “putting the patient first.” 

“We have a systematic patient transfer plan, which makes sure our transferred customers worry less when receiving surgical treatment at other hospitals,” said Dr. Shi. 

The patient escort care specialists also play the role of facilatator between the outside hospitals and doctors at SinoUnited Health, to ensure the sick person receives constant care and professional backup

Efficient Communication with the Insurance Company

The afternoon before the surgery, when the surgeons did the pre-operation test, they found that Guest had a fast heart rate and atrial fibrillation, which was not a good condition for the surgery plan. At 6pm, the surgeons suggested a modified operation solution, which could be done the next day.

“I went into a state of shock,” Guest said. “I couldn’t process the information properly at that time. The surgeons put all those different options for me, and my family helped me make the decision.” 

However, there was still one big concern: the change of the surgery plan meant the former insurance claim was null and void. If the insurance company could not send a new GOP in time, the surgery would have to be postponed.

“We considered the worst-case scenario,” Guest said. “If the surgery was delayed this time, we would go back to the UK for treatment. And that would mean the end of my contract here and I may never come back again.” 

But the customer care specialist made sure to get a positive response from MSH the same night. The surgery was performed successfully.

“Nava and her team worked really hard for me,” Guest said. “We were very impressed by their efficiency in solving my problems. I was so grateful to them.” 

Picture3.pngCustomer care specialist Nava Chen (left) and patient Anne Guest (right) at the ward. Image courtesy of SinoUnited Health

SinoUnited Health’s customer care specialists’ purpose is to always help patients receive the most effective and efficient treatment. “My colleagues from the billing department contacted MSH immediately when I reported the situation,” said Chen. “When MSH learned about Anne’s situation, they issued a new GOP very quickly that night. I’m also very grateful for their cooperation and efficiency.”

Professional Doctors, World-Class Care

After the surgery, Guest went back to Dr. Shi for follow-up treatments. Now her murmur has gone, her heart condition is well controlled and she feels energized.

She sent letters of thanks to Dr. Morris-Davis, Dr. Shi and Chen, to express her gratitude. “I had experiences in many other clinics, but none of them had picked up my heart issues,” Guest said. “I was so lucky that Dr. Morris-Davis picked it up so timely and the whole treatment was done so efficiently. All the clinicians I’ve met were extremely professional and have extensive experience. With the staff’s constant care, the whole experience was made so comfortable for me. It couldn’t have been better.”

Anne Guest’s thank you letter to Dr. Kathy Shi. Image courtesy of SinoUnited Health

Guest was also impressed by SinoUnited Health’s relationships with experienced doctors and high-quality hospitals in China. “We were able to get connected with some of Shanghai’s most reputable cardiologists and surgeons. But back at home, we may only know the renowned doctors but would be unable to make appointment with them.”

Dr. Shi is proud of SinoUnited Health’s access to experienced doctors and the efficient customer care specialists. “It is our strong service capabilities that guarantee we always provide the world-class, high quality care for patients!”

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