The Business Times

Satisfaction with healthcare falls 2% in 2015

GPs, healthcare providers and restructured hospitals score lower, but polyclinic sub-sector continues improving.

Published Tue, Apr 12, 2016 · 09:50 PM
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THE latest findings of the Customer Satisfaction Index of Singapore (CSISG) survey show that the healthcare sector registered a 1.42 point, or 2 per cent, decline to 69.6 points.

The Institute of Service Excellence at the Singapore Management University (ISES) says that the decline in the healthcare sector's CSISG score came primarily from three of the five sub-sectors measured within it.

The institute says that the general practitioner sub-sector scored 69.4 points, a fall of 2.10 points, or 2.9 per cent. The other healthcare sub-sector, which comprised healthcare providers such as dental and traditional Chinese medicine clinics, scored 69.7 points, a fall of 2.47 points, or 3.4 per cent. The restructured hospital sub-sector scored 68.6 points, a dip of 0.70 point, or one per cent, although the change was not statistically significant.

In contrast, the polyclinic sub-sector continued its gains from the previous year, increasing by 0.77 point, or 1.1 per cent, to 69.6 points, a record score for the sub-sector. The private hospital sub-sector inched up by 0.44 point, or 0.6 per cent, to 72 points. However, neither change was statistically significant.

The institute says that a key finding for the steadily improving polyclinic sub-sector was the varied touch point ratings. Four of the 11 measured touch points improved, while six remained essentially unchanged from the previous year. However, satisfaction with wait times fell significantly. Additional analysis of the polyclinic touch points revealed that patients that made most of their visits via appointments had higher satisfaction ratings with all the touch points, compared with those who do not make appointments.

Significantly, patients with appointments rated satisfaction with wait times 7.1 points out of 10, while those without appointments averaged only five points.

Lead CSISG researcher Chen Yongchang remarks: "This finding suggests that appointment making not only allows the polyclinic to cater to and provide a better visit experience for the patient, but perhaps also provides patients better control of their own time and expectations, leading to better satisfaction ratings across all the measured touch points in the polyclinic study.

"It would seem like a win-win to encourage as many patients as possible to make appointments prior to visiting the polyclinics."

Mr Chen says that there were two implications for the sector. Firstly, polyclinics can use this finding to further investigate aspects of why patients with appointments were more satisfied with specific touch points. Some may seem intuitive, such as easier registration and better wait times. But other touch points that improved, such as medication and payment processes, may yield insights into the visit experience and allow administrators to replicate the positive experience for all polyclinic patients.

"Secondly, in general, we think that appointments provide patients better control of their own time and expectations, while allowing the polyclinic to better plan and cater to patient loads. As consumption of healthcare services rise with the ageing population, healthcare providers may wish to consider further encouraging the use of appointments to create this win-win situation for both patients and themselves," says Mr Chen.

The other interesting observation from the sector was between the restructured hospitals and private hospitals. When private hospital patients interacted with more types of hospital personnel, such as doctors, nurses and administrative staff, they were progressively more satisfied. Conversely, when restructured hospital patients interacted with more types of hospital personnel, their satisfaction level declined.

"This may suggest that private hospitals may be more optimised around the patient experience, compared to the restructured hospitals. Restructured hospitals may be more process optimised for maximum efficiency as they have significantly larger case loads," says Mr Chen.

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