Poll shows satisfaction levels up at all public hospitals, but waiting time still problem area
PATIENTS at Alexandra Hospital (AH) get to dine with chief executive Liak Teng Lit once a month.
He and other senior managers make it a point to meet the patients so they can hear about how to make the hospital better.
The time and effort invested in listening to patients have paid off. The latest patient satisfaction survey commissioned by the Health Ministry ranked AH over its peers for the fifth year running, with an overall satisfaction rating of 85 per cent last year.
Mr Liak said: “Service is not just about giving a smile. We need to properly design our service around the patient and understand his needs.”
Few other details about the survey were available but all public health-care institutions did better last year, with nearly 10,000 of those polled rating them at 76 per cent, 2 percentage points higher than in 2008.
The survey, which began in 2004, covered six public hospitals, seven national specialist centres and 18 polyclinics. Respondents were asked what they thought of nine quality service attributes, including facilities, knowledge and skill of doctors, and care and concern of nurses.
The survey aimed to assess patient satisfaction levels and gather data for service improvement.
While all six public hospitals saw improvement in their overall satisfaction ratings, the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) made the greatest jump of 9 percentage points to 78 per cent.
Ms Isabel Yong, director of service quality at SGH, called the results an “affirmation of staff’s dogged efforts in closing service gaps”.
One of them was in handling patients’ appointments and queries more promptly. In 2006, SGH set up a call centre in its department of diagnostic radiology to manage such inquiries, freeing other front-line staff to attend to patients at the clinic.
But there is still room for improvement. The Health Ministry said yesterday that waiting time to see a doctor remained an area of dissatisfaction.
To address this, Ms Yong said doctors at SGH will attend to patients who are waiting for admission at the emergency department, to ensure there are no delays in medical care.
The ministry said it would continue to increase the number of doctors to meet rising patient demand, but this would have an impact on operating costs.
Among the national specialist centres, the Institute of Mental Health clinched the top position for patient satisfaction, while Marine Parade Polyclinic came in top among polyclinics.