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Idris Katib
Jul 31, 2011, 07:27 PM
<p>In this age, hospital services - especially the private ones - have gone beyond the conventional way of doctors sitting in their clinics, reading newspapers or engaging in other vain discussions hoping that patients would patronise their healthcare services. Various private hospitals have carved out a niche for themselves using relationship management, customer relations and hospital marketing techniques to expand their business. Although the prime aim of healthcare establishments in the first instance is to save lives, the truth is that private healthcare services are profit-driven as owners have to cater for various expenses and overheads to keep the business moving.</p>
<p>Those who run healthcare business grapple with regular payment of staff salary, procurement of new medical equipment, maintenance of computers and buildings, payment of electricity bills, procurement and fuelling of power generators, maintenance of official vehicles, communication expenses, staff seminars and printing of receipts, appointment cards and medical report sheets.</p>
<p>Although medical bodies such as <em>Nigeria Medical Association (NMA)</em> strictly prohibits hospital advertising, the dynamic nature of medical business, not only in Nigeria but globally, has made it mandatory for Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs) to place their advertisements on the pages of newspapers, over the radio/television and on the Internet under the guise of health insurance, since insurance does not forbid advertising its services to various target groups.</p>
<p>In these days of sophisticated and well educated customers, patients look beyond coming to the hospital and being attended to in the "usual manner". They want to experience an informal contact (tactile communication); they want the doctor to tell them what they don't know in medicine because many of them have already <em>googled</em> their internet to know about their ailments before consultation; they want to feel like they are in their homes; they want to feel that they are in safe hands and they want to be healed by the words of mouth of the doctors in charge, nurses on duty as well as all other contact points - i.e. the staff - in the hospital.</p>
<p>Simply put, healthcare refers to the service of providing medical care to different categories of people. By classification, there are primary and secondary healthcare systems. Primary healthcare refers to the patient's first contact for health care. It deals with general health problems which are mostly handled by <em>General Practitioners</em>. They are hospitals dealing with health problems such as malaria and other basic illnesses and accidents while secondary healthcare system is a branch of healthcare that deals with specialised and more technical areas such as <em>paediatrics</em>, <em>surgery</em>, <em>gynaecology</em>, <em>ophthalmology</em> and many others.</p>
<p>A healthcare provider can therefore be defined as a hospital where medical care is provided in various forms: laboratory investigation/diagnosis, clinical analysis, medical check-up, medical advice, surgery, blood transfusion, admission and so forth. Quality management in healthcare should be seen as a problem-solving process. How qualitative are the processes in our hospitals today? Are they of high standard or otherwise?</p>
<p>The problem-solving process in any hospital environment cuts across all the contact points of the system - right from the gatemen through the customer service executives, the nurses, the laboratory scientists, the pharmacists to the consulting room. This chain does not exclude the maintenance officers, the cleaners, administrative staff, the kitchen executives, the security men and all others that have one role or the other to play in the process of caring and live-saving.</p>
<p>Information management in healthcare bothers on how organisational messages are communicated in our hospitals, vertically or horizontally? Are messages well relayed to their proper destinations? How do heads of departments in the healthcare system manage hospital information at their disposal? Do we maintain the professional secrecy in the job? Professional health-workers are aware of <em>doctor-patient confidentiality</em> for instance, although many patients are ignorant of this. Any patient for that matter has a right of his secrecy with his doctor as any information regarding his health history cannot be divulged by the healthcare without his consent.</p>
<p>The laboratory scientist has a lot of information at his disposal. Does he shield the information from the third party? Does he label accurately his specimen to avoid mix-up of laboratory results to the patients? Are our nurses used to discussing such information casually? Do people divulge the hospital's classified information to the outsiders? These are heart-throbbing questions practitioners in healthcare should examine deeply from time to time.</p>
<p>Telephone reception in hospital environment is another vital area where many hospital owners do not take seriously. Many nurses and other administrative healthcare workers lack telephone etiquette. In hospital environment, telephone reception should exceptionally be handled with courtesies and empathy because all patients calling the hospital lines, whether through the intercom or hotlines, day or night are not doing so in vain or for pleasure.</p>
<p>Many patients on admission are distressed and need urgent attention. The ringing of an emergency bell should serve as a saving grace to the <em>in-patients</em>. Some patient is in pains and wants to know if he should continue his dosage or come over to the clinic - this has to be confirmed from the doctor almost immediately because the patient is waiting on the phone.</p>
<p>Some patient will call to know when doctor A, B or C will be on duty because she has confidence in their treatment and prescriptions. <em>An enrollee</em> will want to know if he has been <em>delisted</em> by his <em>HMO</em> or whether his brother-in-law can come with his card and be treated on <em>fee for service</em>. We must not wait for the third ring before springing into action. This will prove us as real life-savers. The manner and approach by which a hospital staff attends to any of these patients in terms of the information they need will, to a large extent, depict the quality of service available in such a healthcare.</p>
<ul>
<li>is Public Relations Officer, Crescent University, Abeokuta and can be reached via <a href="mailto:idriskatib@yahoo.com">idriskatib@yahoo.com</a></li>
</ul><br><br><a target="_blank" href=http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=19301><b>..Read the full article</b></a><br>

idriskatib
Nov 14, 2011, 08:04 PM
Managing Quality In Our Healthcare (i)

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* Idris Katib
* July 31, 2011

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In this age, hospital servicesâ€"especially the private onesâ€" have gone beyond the conventional way of doctors sitting in their clinics, reading newspapers or engaging in other vain discussions hoping that patients would patronise their healthcare services. Various private hospitals have carved out a niche for themselves using relationship management, customer relations and hospital marketing techniques to expand their business. Although the prime aim of healthcare establishments in the first instance is to save lives, the truth is that private healthcare services are profit-driven as owners have to cater for various expenses and overheads to keep the business moving.

Those who run healthcare business grapple with regular payment of staff salary, procurement of new medical equipment, maintenance of computers and buildings, payment of electricity bills, procurement and fuelling of power generators, maintenance of official vehicles, communication expenses, staff seminars and printing of receipts, appointment cards and medical report sheets.

Although medical bodies such as Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) strictly prohibits hospital advertising, the dynamic nature of medical business, not only in Nigeria but globally, has made it mandatory for Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs) to place their advertisements on the pages of newspapers, over the radio/television and on the Internet under the guise of health insurance, since insurance does not forbid advertising its services to various target groups.

In these days of sophisticated and well educated customers, patients look beyond coming to the hospital and being attended to in the "usual manner". They want to experience an informal contact (tactile communication); they want the doctor to tell them what they don't know in medicine because many of them have already googled their internet to know about their ailments before consultation; they want to feel like they are in their homes; they want to feel that they are in safe hands and they want to be healed by the words of mouth of the doctors in charge, nurses on duty as well as all other contact pointsâ€" i.e. the staffâ€"in the hospital.

Simply put, healthcare refers to the service of providing medical care to different categories of people. By classification, there are primary and secondary healthcare systems. Primary healthcare refers to the patient's first contact for health care. It deals with general health problems which are mostly handled by General Practitioners. They are hospitals dealing with health problems such as malaria and other basic illnesses and accidents while secondary healthcare system is a branch of healthcare that deals with specialised and more technical areas such as paediatrics, surgery, gynaecology, ophthalmology and many others.

A healthcare provider can therefore be defined as a hospital where medical care is provided in various forms: laboratory investigation/diagnosis, clinical analysis, medical check-up, medical advice, surgery, blood transfusion, admission and so forth. Quality management in healthcare should be seen as a problem-solving process. How qualitative are the processes in our hospitals today? Are they of high standard or otherwise?

The problem-solving process in any hospital environment cuts across all the contact points of the systemâ€"right from the gatemen through the customer service executives, the nurses, the laboratory scientists, the pharmacists to the consulting room. This chain does not exclude the maintenance officers, the cleaners, administrative staff, the kitchen executives, the security men and all others that have one role or the other to play in the process of caring and live-saving.

Information management in healthcare bothers on how organisational messages are communicated in our hospitals, vertically or horizontally? Are messages well relayed to their proper destinations? How do heads of departments in the healthcare system manage hospital information at their disposal? Do we maintain the professional secrecy in the job? Professional health-workers are aware of doctor-patient confidentiality for instance, although many patients are ignorant of this. Any patient for that matter has a right of his secrecy with his doctor as any information regarding his health history cannot be divulged by the healthcare without his consent.

The laboratory scientist has a lot of information at his disposal. Does he shield the information from the third party? Does he label accurately his specimen to avoid mix-up of laboratory results to the patients? Are our nurses used to discussing such information casually? Do people divulge the hospital's classified information to the outsiders? These are heart-throbbing questions practitioners in healthcare should examine deeply from time to time.

Telephone reception in hospital environment is another vital area where many hospital owners do not take seriously. Many nurses and other administrative healthcare workers lack telephone etiquette. In hospital environment, telephone reception should exceptionally be handled with courtesies and empathy because all patients calling the hospital lines, whether through the intercom or hotlines, day or night are not doing so in vain or for pleasure.

Many patients on admission are distressed and need urgent attention. The ringing of an emergency bell should serve as a saving grace to the in-patients. Some patient is in pains and wants to know if he should continue his dosage or come over to the clinicâ€"this has to be confirmed from the doctor almost immediately because the patient is waiting on the phone.

Some patient will call to know when doctor A, B or C will be on duty because she has confidence in their treatment and prescriptions. An enrollee will want to know if he has been delisted by his HMO or whether his brother-in-law can come with his card and be treated on fee for service. We must not wait for the third ring before springing into action. This will prove us as real life-savers. The manner and approach by which a hospital staff attends to any of these patients in terms of the information they need will, to a large extent, depict the quality of service available in such a healthcare.

* is Public Relations Officer, Crescent University, Abeokuta and can be reached via idriskatib@yahoo.com