Wellness & Fitness

How do you know you're getting best hospital care?


Many patients and hospitals hold a different understanding of what quality healthcare is. Here’s what you need to know about quality to enable you to evaluate the care you receive the next time you visit a hospital.

As a quality advisor and in your experience, how do patients evaluate quality?

Patients perceive quality as the degree of excellence. It is what they experience from the moment they walk into the hospital to the moment they leave – the accessibility of the facilities, cleanliness and ambience of the hospital, the warmth, and welcoming spirit of the staff, waiting and serving time, how their views and beliefs are incorporated in the treatment plan, value for their money, attention, communication, and care they receive from the healthcare providers regarding the condition, progress, and outcomes of their health status.

What are the determinants of quality that can help a patient evaluate the care they receive in hospitals?

Six components define the quality of healthcare; it must be safe, timely, efficient, equitable, effective, and people-centered.

Healthcare should be safe, it should not lead to harm, and timely whereby it should be offered within the required timeframe and should always be available when required.

The services offered should be efficient, whereby as a patient you should get value for the money.

Effectiveness addresses the appropriateness of the care that you receive, the clinicians’ treatment should be evidence-based, equity guides the provision of healthcare services to all individuals regardless of race, religion, gender, or social status, and lastly, healthcare should be patient-centered.

Your values and beliefs should be at the centre of the delivery of care.

Does and should quality perception vary from one person to another?

Of course! The quality perception varies from one individual to another and from one patient to the next. We strive to standardise all our processes to ensure that the care delivered to one patient is comparable to the one delivered to the next within the same scope.

This reduces variation in our day-to-day practices and ensures that our services are not dependent on individuals but on systems.

As a patient, should my expectations dictate the quality or its hospital processes dictate?

Patients are at the core of our services and our partners in their care. We value the input of our patients and we allow patients to share their feedback on their experience after interacting with our system.

We do seriously consider the feedback we get from patients to guide us on areas we should focus on. However, as an institution we have to adhere to local and international regulations and also uphold ethics, so we do consider all these parameters in the delivery of our services.

Many patients tend to associate cost/price with quality, what’s your comment on this?

Quality entails offering the best services at the most acceptable cost. This entails a reduction in the variability of the cost while factoring in the costs incurred by the institution to deliver these services to their patients.

Therefore, as an institution, we believe in offering value for money. Patients should not only look at the price of the service they are being offered but also at the assurance that the desired outcome will be delivered.

Are there instances where hospital quality processes may not match my expectations as a patient?

Yes, the quality processes may not always match your expectations as a patient but are always geared towards the desired healthcare needs and outcomes.

The hospital quality policies and procedures always address the needs of the patients and are set out to standardize practice across the board to ensure patient safety.

These policies, guidelines, protocols, and procedures are formulated within the framework of local and international regulations, best practices and accreditation standards.

What can hospitals do to improve the quality of services and overall care of patients?

All healthcare organisations should strive to be high-reliability organisations. This requires the institutions to constantly test their systems for any loopholes and to constantly strive to improve.

One of the components of high-reliability organisations is to be preoccupied with failure i.e. consistently aiming for continuous improvement of all the processes to achieve zero harm.

Our institution constantly analyses all our processes to identify areas of improvement, through monitoring of departmental key performance indicators, patient experience feedback, review of patient safety events, and conducting internal and external audits among others.

We also focus on systems and not individual lapses and aim to encourage our staff and patients to report all errors for introspection into the causes, deriving solutions that improve our care processes.

This year's World Quality week theme is quality conscience; doing the right thing, what does it advocate for?

This year’s theme advocates for consistently doing the right thing.

- By Quality Team at Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi