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How long does a patient on appointment has to sit in the waiting room? (5)

QUALITY HEALTHCARE SERVICE with Kola Owolabi

We shall be wrapping up this series that we started about five editions ago in this post. This post shall be looking at how to upgrade our quality healthcare service to impact positively on our bottom line, that is, our profitability, as healthcare service providers.

The same way technology has been a moving target in recent times, quality healthcare service has also to be moving fast in line with customers’ expectations. We all know how medicine has advanced so much in the immediate past, thanks to rapid technological growth. One area to note is in Surgeries in the field of Cardiology. Heart surgeries are no longer the tedious and cumbersome process they used to be. Today, in a Catherization laboratory, minimally invasive cardiological devices are used to perform surgeries without any need of opening up the patient. It is usually a painless process and by the end of the same day, the patient, with a brand new, let us say, pacemaker, effortlessly inserted into his heart is ready to go home. This would have been a matter nobody would have thought about just less than a century ago. You can go on and on with how technology has been brought in to make medical practice so simple and with breathtaking impact on the health of human beings today. However, the big question is, has quality healthcare service delivery attention moved in the same direction as the technology driving the rapid advancements in medicine. Quality healthcare service improvement statistics are horrible all over the world. I had referred to the figures of the damage medical errors are doing to the reputation of the sector in the first edition of this series. It is appalling to hear that medical errors are the third largest cause of deaths in the United States in the recent past, only behind cancer and respiratory diseases. What can be done to up the quality of healthcare attention, particularly in the African or Nigerian setting?

The answer lies in the product life cycle concept that we discussed in a previous post. The product life cycle concept looks at the life span of any given product or service as the same with that of an inverted (upside down) shape of U with slanting start and end curves. The beginning shows the introduction of a product or service and the product usually grows rapidly in market acceptance due to the preparedness of people to try new things. The product life cycle concept tells us that after the introduction stage comes the growth stage and thereafter, the maturity stage and after that the decline stage sets in as people are no longer excited about the product and if nothing is done at that point the product dies an automatic death.

What we are told is that the life cycle concept is automatic and will affect any product or service, no matter what industry that is involved. So, if you don’t want your product or service to follow that automatic path, which is an eventual death after some time, it means that you have to do something about it. That thing is that immediately you introduce your product or service into the market, put a strategy in place to position the product or service for unending growth. How can that be done? The answer is simple, continuous customer or patient engagement. Ensure you have an effective communication process with your customers whereby you procure feedback from them on a per-patronage basis. That is every time you have the opportunity to attend to a customer/patient, let him or her complete a feedback form so as to capture his feelings about the service he was just given. Use the feedback to improve your quality service offering. It means your improvement will be on a real-time basis and in line with every feedback you get from the patient.

Kola Owolabi, 08023203198 (FIMC) Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants (with certifications in Healthcare Organizations Operations and Qualify Improvement in Healthcare Organizations)

Kola Owolabi is the Principal Consultant of Healing Balm Health Consult, a Healthcare Consultancy services organization.

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