Background Several studies have shown that involving patients in their medical care results in a better outcome and greater satisfaction with care (1,2). However, few studies focus on the patients’ perspective of the actual health service delivery. The patient experience starts from the time of the appointment letter followed by the outpatient clinic, consultation and follow up. An efficient and effective service depends on the whole team including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, therapists, receptionists, secretaries as well as the facilities and clinical pathways. A successful service is only as strong as the weakest link in its chain.
Objectives To assess the healthcare, information needs and expectations of patients attending a rheumatology outpatient clinic
Methods Cross sectional survey using a questionnaire of 70 consecutive patients attending rheumatology outpatients. Questionnaire addressed aspects of the structure, process and outcome of a rheumatology consultation and overall satisfaction.
Results 94% were highly satisfied with the overall service. 87.1% were highly satisfied with the efficiency and service offered at the reception desk. 98.5% agreed that they had adequate time during the consultation to discuss their condition. 75.7% strongly believed that written information helps them understand their illness better. Areas of dissatisfaction reported were waiting longer than 30 minutes from registration at the reception until review by the healthcare professionals (55.7%), interruptions during a consultation (38.6%) and an inadequate waiting area to accommodate their needs and disabilities (24.7%). When asked to rank different aspects of service delivery according to importance, punctuality was ranked first by the majority followed by availability of more frequent appointments and being informed beforehand specifically who will be performing the consultation. 80% agreed that a prompt clinic letter sent to their GP would facilitate clinical care.
Conclusions Health service research is important for patients, clinicians and policy makers alike. A successful service in the eyes of patients is not only the consultation with the specialist but the holistic experience including structure, process and outcomes. An easily accessible user friendly health care delivery is key in a patient centred care system. This study highlights areas in healthcare delivery which are not meeting patients’ expectations. Clinicians are vital in setting a vision, managing and improving the services that they provide. Obtaining patients’ perspective of the health service is a key element in ensuring that services are built around the needs of our patients.
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Brekke M, et al. Arthritis Rheum 2001;45:8–15.
Disclosure of Interest None Declared