AN INVESTIGATION INTO CUSTOMER CARE PRACTICES IN PUBLIC HOSPITALS IN KUMASI METROPOLIS

ABSTRACT
Customer care within the context of healthcare delivery is very broad. The healthcare institution has two forms of customers: The suppliers of goods to the Hospital and the patients and their relatives who seek for healthcare. The World Health Organization focuses on the Patient as the Customer .The World Health Organization (WHO) in 1995 defined Customer care as the process by which a healthcare organization delivers its services or products in a way that allows the customer (patients) to access them in the most efficient, fair, cost effective, and humanly satisfying and pleasurable manner possible. This makes the patient the most important partner in healthcare system. However, this patient - hospital relationship in Ghana is tilted in favour of the healthcare staffs who regard him or herself as more important than the client. The question is does this tilted relationship provides good customer care? The general objective of the study is to investigate customer care practices in public health institutions in Ghana - a case of selected government hospitals in Kumasi Metropolis. The researcher adopted simple random sampling techniques in collecting data from respondents. The respondents consisted of patients and staff in selected public health institutions in Kumasi Metropolis. Data was collected through direct visitation, observation, interviews and questionnaires. A total of 320 people were interviewed in 16 public health hospitals and data collected constituted the primary data. It was shown that most patients were not satisfied with the long waiting times in these hospitals. Patients were however satisfied with the quality of care. It is recommended that more doctors should be trained and retained in these institutions to reduce the long waiting times in the hospitals.


CHAPTER ONE
GENERAL INTRODUCTION
1.1 Introduction
This segment introduces the research topic under study – An investigation into customer care practices in Public Health institution in Kumasi metropolis. It describes and presents experts and scholarly opinions on the subject under study. Here, problem statement and the main objectives and the significance of the research work are elaborated.

1.2 Background to the Study
One of the most interesting aspects in healthcare management is how to manage the relationship between a healthcare provider and its customers (patients) in order to create a greater mutual understanding, trust, and patient involvement in decision making. Offei (2004), were of the view that a good relationship between a healthcare provider and its customers will lead to improved customers’ satisfaction, which in turn make them loyal customers.

A good relationship between a healthcare provider and its customers do not only foster effective communications between them but also helps in improving customer’s care practices and satisfaction, which may help to improve their health and health-related quality life and more effective in disease management (Nelson et al, 2006). On the other hand, failure in improving customer care will create dissatisfaction of customers, which may lead to distrust towards the system.

In addition, bad or unmanaged customer care practices with patients will make them feel alienated during treatment; in summary, the business sustainability of the healthcare provider will be threatened by sour relationship with its customers (MacStravic, 1997). Therefore, improved customer care practices which lead to a good relationship between a healthcare provider and its customers are crucial and the relationship must be managed effectively to sustain the business.

In the healthcare environment, healthcare providers are challenged not only to retain existing customers but also to acquire potential customers for the healthcare services, retaining them to use the services, and extending various services in the future (Nguyen and LeBlanc, 2004). With the growing competition among healthcare providers, managing the customer care practices and providing better services through customer care management is a strategy that needs to be carefully planned.

Unfortunately, many see customer care practices as merely a management issue for improving patients’ satisfaction which may lead to a failure in its implementation. Customer care management initiatives must be seen as a strategy for significant improvement in services by solidifying satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy through customer care practices (Lee, Lee and Yoo, 2000). As such, matters pertaining to people such as customer behaviour, culture transformation, personal agendas, and new interactions between individuals and group must be incorporated in customer care practices initiatives. Therefore, an organization needs to understand that behaviour and expectations of customers will continue to change overtime. Consequently customer care practices must address the dynamic nature of customers’ needs and adjustment strategies embedded in customer care management system are required.

Increasingly, health care stakeholders such as governments, health authorities and consumers are attaching importance to health care quality (Jones and Suh, 2000). More and more, patients’ satisfaction is recognized as essential component in the evaluation of health care quality (Jones and Suh, 2000). The quality of health care is not confined to resource use or economic efficiency, but also clinical effectiveness through effective customer care practices as an important quality objective (Jain and Gupta, 2004).

Monitoring and evaluating customer care practices and satisfaction with health care is a crucial input to improving the quality of health system and changes in the system as well as providing feedback for health care professionals and policy makers (David, 2001). Measures on customer care practices with health care can provide important assessment of quality of health care not adequately captured by other health service statistics such as patient throughput, waiting times, consultation times and proximity (Folkes and Patrick, 2003). In fact, it has been suggested that customer care practices is a major quality input in itself (Fornell and Claes, 2006). The extent to which health care users are satisfied with their local providers may be a key factor underpinning their health behaviour and health care utilization (Gardial et al, 2007). It is envisaged that timely, accessible, appropriate health interventions, continuous and effective customer care practices are important components of health care quality (Folkes and Patrick, 2003). Jain and Gupta (2004) observed that it has imperatively become clear that effective customer care practices therefore play an important role in providing effective healthcare delivery. Most of the researches in health management are concerned with optimizing the healthcare delivery in terms of its efficiency and competence in the effective customer care practices, but only limited studies are done considering the role effective customer care practices play in healthcare delivery of public healthcare institutions in Ghana.

Effective customer care practices in the health management can play a vital role in meeting patients’ needs with the view of improving the general welfare of citizens, thus emphasizing the need of a general model for effective customer care practices within health management in health care institutions.

Therefore, the primary aim of this research is to investigate into customer care practices in public hospitals using selected Government Hospitals in Kumasi metropolis.

Public health sector is chosen as a case study for this research work mainly because of the numerous reports of staff and administrators’ ineptitude and gross negligence despite various policies and programmes put in place to ensure effective customer care practices operation in health delivery in Ghana (Ghana Health Services Report, 2013).

1.3 Problem Statement
To improve staff performance with the aim of ensuring continuous labour productivity, every organization needs to put in place pragmatic customer care practices that will aid in the achievement of public health care objectives of improving healthcare delivery for all. Effective customer care practices are not only considered to have a positive influence on strategy to retain existing customers and attract new ones, but rather as an important process of promoting health care outcomes (Churchill and Surprenant, 2007).

Investigating into customer care practices in health care is a crucial input to improving the quality of health system and changes in the system as well as providing feedback for health care professionals and policy makers (Folkes and Patrick, 2003).

As indicated earlier, measures of customer care practices in health care can provide important assessment of quality of health care not adequately captured by other health service statistics such as patient throughput, waiting times, consultation times and proximity (Folkes and Patrick, 2003).

However, investigating into this customer care practices of health organisations, especially in the public health sector has generated debates in recent time (Gardial, Sarah, Robert, Woodruff, Schumann and Mary, 2007).

Some researchers have suggested that many public health institutions practice customer care practices on ad hoc basis resulting in inefficient health delivery system in Ghana (David, 2001). As one researcher puts it, there are inappropriate customer care practices in most Ghanaian public hospitals jeopardizing healthcare delivery in Ghana.

They argued that the importance of customer care practices fails to provide appropriate goals, health care outcome, or health care delivery system (MacStravic, 1997). Distorted health care management system, can jeopardize healthcare delivery and may constitute bad welfare for its citizens (Jain and Gupta, 2004).

Despite the fact that investigating into customer care practices has become an important tool for overall healthcare delivery, little research have been done investigating customer care practices in Ghanaian public health system. This research work found it necessary to investigate into customer care practices in Ghanaian public health system in Ghana - a case of selected government hospital Kumasi Metropolis.

1.4. Objective of the study
The general objective of the study is to investigate customer care practices in public health institution in Ghana - a case of selected government hospitals in the Kumasi Metropolis.

The specific objectives of this study include:

i.            To identify the dimensions of customer care practices in public health institution in Ghana.

ii.             To analyse the satisfaction of patients on customer care practices in public health institution in Ghana.

iii.             To evaluate the challenges associated with the promotion of customer care practices in public health institution in Ghana.

1.5 Research Questions
i.            What are the dimensions of customer care practices in public health institution in Ghana?

ii.             What is the level of patients’ satisfaction on customer care practices in public health institution in Ghana?

iii.             What are the challenges associated with the promotion of customer care practices in public health institution in Ghana?

1.6 Significance of the Study
According to Maxwell (2004), effective customer care practices are not confined to clinical effectiveness but also incorporate social acceptability as a welfare benefits policy objective.

The rationale of this study is to investigate into customer care practices in Ghanaian public health institution in Ghana. This will help academicians and professional alike to appreciate and understand effectiveness and deficiencies inherent in in customer care practices in health institutions and determine various measures that can be implemented to improve the system.

This research aims to document and provide up-to-date evidence-based recommendations to policy makers not only to identify the dimensions of customer care practices in public health institution, but how policy makers can influence and redirect effort in ensuring that these health institutions leverage customer care practices in improving healthcare delivery.

The study among its usefulness adds to existing customer care practices and how it can be used to improve performance of healthcare institutions in Ghana. It will also serve as a good source of reference to stake holders in healthcare delivery so far as instituting and ensuring effective customer care practices are concerned. Further, this would enable the public hospital derive optimum results from its effective customer care practices employed by these health institutions.

Finally, the results of this study will help the healthcare institution in general and public hospital in particular to ensure the need to put in place pragmatic customer care practices measures in order to improve day to day healthcare delivery in the institution.

1.7 Brief Methodology
The researcher employed a qualitative method for this research work. A field study was conducted to obtain the relevant data for the study. The target population for the collection of data for the research is the patients, staff and administrators in the various selected public health institutions in Kumasi Metropolis. The researcher adopted simple random sampling techniques in collecting data from respondents who consist of staff in both managerial/supervisory positions, patients and junior staff selected public health institutions in Kumasi metropolis. Data was collected through direct visitation, observation, interviews and questionnaires analyzed with the use of Statistical Package for Social Science.

1.8 The Scope of the Study
The general objective of the study is to investigate into customer care practices in Ghanaian public health institution - a case of selected government hospital in Kumasi Metropolis.

This research aims at taking an extensive look at investigating into Customer Care Practices in the public health institutions in Ghana. This research work will identify the dimensions of customer care practices in public health sector, analyse the satisfaction of patients on customer care practices in the public health institutions, and evaluate the challenges associated with the promotion of customer care practices in public health institution in Ghana.

Kumasi Metropolis was taken as a case study because as a second largest city in Ghana with different public health centers and institutions providing heterogeneous health services to different people, the Metropolis stands as an ideal place to conduct such research.

1.9 Limitation of study
The study is supposed to cover all public health institutions in Ghana; nevertheless, the researcher selected some public health institutions Kumasi metropolis as a case study to represent all public health institutions in Ghana, because of time and resource constraints. Furthermore for geographical reasons, the data coverage of the research will be limited to the Kumasi Metropolis. However it is believed above mentioned shortfalls, will not hamper the credibility of information therein contained to any marked degree.

1.10 Organization of the study
The study is divided into five chapters. Chapter One deals with the background, the statement of the problems, research question, justification of the study, objectives, methodology, scope, limitation as well as organization of the study. Chapter Two provides an overview of existing literature. This chapter provided a review of already existing literature on this topic. Chapter Three gives the profile of the selected district to be studied. It also describes the data that form the basis for the research reported in this paper and provides an overview of the methods or the methodology used in the study. Again it will deal with the theoretical framework and the empirical model that underpin the analysis of the data. Chapter Four reports the results of the empirical analysis. That is, it deals with the presentation, analysis and discussion of the data collected from the field. Chapter Five which is the last chapter look at the summary of findings, conclusions and policy recommendations to management of public health institutions in Ghana.

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Item Type: Ghanaian Project Material  |  Attribute: 80 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: GH50  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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