Why patient satisfaction matters

KUALA LUMPUR — Sri Kota Specialist Medical Centre believes patient satisfaction is an important and commonly used indicator for measuring quality in patient health care especially in delivering return on investment (ROI).

Hospital director Tan Suet Guan said patients are both the customers and target audience in the hospital.

“To provide a very simple example — if you go to a restaurant which has a great variety of food but is lacking in friendly service and cleanliness, would you recommend it to your family and friends?” she asked.

Speaking to Malay Mail in an exclusive interview, she said Sri Kota achieves patient satisfaction through excellence in the area of medical expertise and also in customer service.

“This ensures that they will return to seek treatment if required in the future. Word of mouth about our modern facilities and the warmth of our staff ensure that new patients will visit Sri Kota,” she said.

Sri Kota is the flagship tertiary private medical centre in Klang, Malaysia.

Commissioned in October 1999 under the management of Southern Medicare Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Southern Acids (M) Bhd, it is strategically situated in the heart of Klang town with ready access to customers.

Besides capital expenditure for expansion and an accessible location, patient satisfaction is also important in delivering ROI in the healthcare sector.

“We recognise our patients as important customers who have the right to choose where to go for their medical care.

“Therefore, Sri Kota has always been committed to serve its patients at its utmost level from the day one, and (we) are thankful for the community’s steadfast support over the years,” she said.

Nevertheless, healthcare or any other service industry is always a challenging one.

“With our team of specialist doctors, nurses, technologists and management, we at Sri Kota treat, manage and care for our patients from all walks of life and diversities.

“There is seldom one leading cause of patient dissatisfaction, as every patient and each situation is unique,” she said.

Common causes for dissatisfaction include long waiting times for admission and discharge, and food quality in the (patient) wards, where oil and salt are usually reduced for the sake of the patient’s health.

“We have a well-trained dietitian who will visit the patients at the wards to explain the science behind the need to have low-sodium and less oily diet.

“We always strive to deliver the best for everyone, although I must admit that it is not always easy to please each person around you,” he said.

She revealed that in her years of healthcare experience, the common denominator which leads to patient dissatisfaction is usually miscommunication or misunderstanding.

“My advice on handling patient dissatisfaction when it occurs, is to attend to them promptly.

“We have to face patients, and sometimes even their family members, listen to them and attend to them accordingly, in a proper manner.

“In short, we must have a caring and rational attitude, avoid being emotional and maintain our professionalism at all times,” Tan said.

Since she joined Sri Kota in 2014, the group’s revenue has increased 21% while profit before tax has skyrocketed 168%. The group is hoping to continue its double digit growth this year.

Tan’s entire career has been spent in the healthcare sector, beginning in 1982 with Pantai Medical Centre where she was instrumental in the commissioning of Normah Medical Centre, Sarawak, and Pantai Hospital Ampang.

During her tenure with Institut Jantung Negara, she established a finance department and an integrated hospital information system.

As the first female chief executive officer within the Pantai Group of Hospitals, she strategised and supervised a total facelift and upgrading of Pantai Hospital Cheras and introduced three new Centres of Excellence (Pantai Cancer Centre, Breast Care Centre and Spine & Joint Centre).

When asked about Sri Kota’s number one priority in healthcare delivery system over the next one year, she said providing quality, safe care to every patient every time is at the heart of what they do.

“We work hard to inculcate a strong sense of full commitment to excellent care and positive patient experience, into the work habits and mindset of our staff, whether clinical or non-clinical staff.”

She added that patient-focused or patient-centred care is not a new concept but its value has always been overlooked.

“We communicate, we have specific forums to open up communication lines with the doctors and our clinical carers and non-clinical support staff to impress upon them that patient clinical outcomes and satisfaction rates are prioritised through improving the quality of doctor-patient relationship.

“We have a medical director, who is an important liaison between management and doctors, whose role is to make sure that our doctors understand and improve different aspects of patient-physician interaction by employing measurable skills and behaviours,” Tan added.

Moving forward, Sri Kota is striving to continually improve its services delivery and offer high quality medical care to keep it competitive among other players.

“Our proven strategy is to maintain high standards of quality in all aspects of Sri Kota, including our facilities, technology and human capital. Some of the plans in the pipeline include upgrading of rooms in our wards,” she said.

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