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How Long Should A Patient On Appointment Wait For A Doctor? (2)


I asked someone to give me the definition of medicine. He wrote it that it is how to treat patients. That is the brightest definition of medicine I have ever come across. The operating word in that definition is ‘treat’, that is ‘handle” or ‘manage’. To treat is to subject someone to a way of handling. What do you subject that person to? That is the kind of service that you give or mete out to that person.

So, medicine or medical practice is not administering a regimen of medical procedures involving activities like consultation, examination, tests, prescriptions, surgeries, etc. Medicine is the service you give a person that has a condition that can be regarded as unpleasant until that person regains his health and has a favourable outcome. It is handling someone who has a level of unsatisfaction with his state of health until his satisfaction is restored.

In this direction, patient satisfaction is akin to customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction in any business is a function of the kind of service meted out to a prospective buyer of a product or service, when there is a favourable outcome that synchronizes with his expectation.

The day healthcare providers stop seeing handling of patients from the narrow perspective of administering medical attention in line with premeditated procedures, and look at patients like customers on the lookout for a good bargain in a purchase decision, things will start taking shape in the right direction.

I encountered a case of someone who was attended to in a prominent private establishment and had a surgery performed on him which ended up as defective. When complications developed, he was taken to another establishment, this time a public institution, apparently with more experienced professionals. The new place he went to was his saving grace. Medicine is science and the scientific method demands that investigation of any condition be thorough and the attention that should follow should follow a process that will make result the same irrespective of the person providing the attention. If an attention results in an unfavorable outcome, then, that establishment should be queried for not being scientific in their approach. Therefore, no excuse is tenable for defective attention in healthcare. It is just flagrant disregard for the interest of the patient who is the customer. No customer comes back to where he got poor service. You can also trust that the same customer becomes your megaphone, loudly advertising your poor ability and incompetence.

Following from our last post, I will say that patient or customer-satisfaction is as central to the success of any healthcare establishment, like any other business organization. So if you keep the patient waiting for too long for him to see you, even if you later made it up by giving good service after he comes in to see you, you may have been scored down on a very important parameter and that customer will either keep quiet about you when talking to others or share his negative experience when prompted to say anything about the service he got from you.

In the next post we shall be looking at this subject from the perspective of the three tiers of healthcare in Nigeria. Starting from the primary, secondary and to tertiary levels. What do we find at the tertiary level, where the attention to quality is supposed to be at the highest level? I did a project for the biggest maker of minimally invasive cardiological devices in the United States. The project involved a study that was carried out in Nigeria. From the perspective of that project we shall look at what we should all start doing about quality of healthcare attention particularly at the highest tier of healthcare attention.

Kola Owolabi: – (FIMC) Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants (with certifications in Healthcare Organizations Operations and Qualify Improvement in Healthcare Organizations)


He is the Principal Consultant of Healing Balm Health Consult, a Healthcare Consultancy services organization involved in the training of healthcare practitioners, particularly on issues concerning putting in place quality improvement culture. He has consulted for prominent Healthcare organizations in the world, including the United States largest maker of minimally invasive cardiological devices, Nigeria’s most prominent firm of ophthalmologists and opticians and several others.

To receive more information please text “SEND MORE INFO on your Healthcare Short Courses and Quality Service Improvement Programmes” by WhatsApp to 09031911326.

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