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This article is taken from the July 2000 Phatlalatsa newsletter

 

Client Satisfaction Tool Proves Its Worth

Matthew Smith has been working with the Health Systems Trust to design a ‘Client Satisfaction Tool’ - a mechanism for patients to rate their health care facility. He reports on the second phase of the pilot study.

The second phase of the pilot study, in which S&T have been testing the Client Satisfaction Tool (CS Tool) it designed for Health Systems Trust (HST), was successfully completed in June 2000. Readers may remember that at the end of last year S&T performed pilot studies at two peri-urban hospitals, one in Kokstad and the other in Upington.

In the first phase, S&T tested the CS Tool it had developed for HST. The instrument asks a series of questions to gauge the perception clients (or patients) have of the hospital. The answers are then grouped under common themes (such as access, satisfaction, reliability, responsiveness and empathy) so that he hospital can measure what the clients think of the hospital; and the hospital can ultimately set itself some performance targets that it can work towards.

Allowing patients space to comment on and rate health care facilities may be a critical step in achieving a better health care system. As we become ‘clients’ to be served, rather than ‘patients’ to be worked on, so hospitals and clinics may develop a more appropriate working relationship.

In the phase that has just been completed, some minor adjustments were made to the instrument, which is why it was decided to pilot the instrument again, using the same sites. As in the first phase, S&T were present at both hospitals to ensure the administration of the instrument was done along the strict guidelines governing this type of study – permission was sought from each patient, confidentiality was assured and no member of the hospital staff was involved in the process to ensure the integrity of the study.

Results

The results of the pilot study were very encouraging at two levels. At the level of the instrument itself, they demonstrated that the tool is both reliable and valid. At the level of the perception of the client, the instrument highlighted which aspects of the service provided by the hospitals need attention and which aspects are satisfactory. A final pilot study will be performed at each site. In preparation for this, S&T has developed a short manual for the hospital management to guide them through the whole process of administering the CS Tool. Once the third pilot study has been completed, and the data analysed, a full report on this project will be available.

 

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