Exploring the healthcare service quality in a provincial hospital
Mthanti, Segametsi Maryjane
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Service quality has been said to be a determinant of customer satisfaction. The perceived quality of services received, influences consumption behaviours and patterns. With regards to healthcare services, the expectation is that services provided will be of the best quality, effective and efficient and that it will result in an increased utilisation of the services offered. When patients however, experience poor quality service, it can result in them not being interested in using the service at a particular service provider. Service delivery and the state of health facilities in the public sector have been deteriorating over the last two decades. The perception of public hospitals include that they are being run-down by management, have poor maintenance, a tendency to be over-crowded and sometimes even lacking essential services such as piped water, proper electricity, medical equipment, telephones and accessibility by road. The purpose of this study was to determine the perceptions of patients and their immediate family members regarding the quality of healthcare services provided in a specific public hospital. The information obtained can add value to the public hospital to proactively address aspects that may have a detrimental impact on their service quality. The study made use of the SERVQUAL model. An adapted questionnaire was compiled utilising the SERVQUAL model. The questionnaire was divided into several sections inclusive of tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, competence, courtesy, credibility, access, security, communication and understanding the customer. A total study population of 200 participants with a 100% response rate were included in the research. Demographics noted of the sample were that they were predominantly females (68,50%), African (89,00%), day-visitors (68,50%), and patients to the public hospital (74,50%). The majority of the sample also noted having visited the hospital more than once. Analysis of the data indicated a 9-Factor Model consisting of Responsiveness of hospital staff to patients’ problems, Communication and Access within the hospital, Tangibles, Competence of the hospital staff, Understanding the customer, Security, Credibility of the hospital, Reliability of the services performed and Effectiveness and Efficiency of the services received. Cronbach alpha coefficients varying from 0,77 to 0,89 were obtained. A second-order factor analysis indicated a 1-factor structure, namely Total Quality Service with a Cronbach alpha coefficient of 0,95. More positive results regarding service quality were obtained for participants older than 50 years, pensioners, unemployed participants and participants with a lower educational level than matric, whilst employed participants within the age group 30 to 39 years and participants with a postgraduate qualification level had more negative perceptions towards the quality of health service. Care should be taken on how the perceptions of the quality services received can also be improved in the latter groups. The limitations of the study were identified and recommendations for the hospital and future research were made.