Quality Assurance in Health Care

INTRODUCTION Pursuing to meet customer expectations is a critical and strategic decision. It is not something an organization does simply to satisfy a standard but it is something does to stay in the business. Meeting customer expectations should be the ultimate goal. Although profit and revenues are very important, this is nothing compare the results of fulfilling customer needs and expectations. Everyone must involve in meeting customer expectations. All personnel should have the capability to meet what the customers expect them to do. Customers are only satisfied if their expectations are consistently met.

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To be competitive, expectations of customers must meet in a timely and cost effective manner. As for the National Health Service (NHS), it is very important that customer or clients/patients as we call it in medical field are satisfied and happy for the services that NHS offered. The number of clients that NHS has is equally huge. On average, it deals with one million patients every thirty six hours. That is why NHS should understand the importance of quality assurance to maintain clients. Knowing what your customer wants, the business should make it possible to modify everything you do to please the customer.

When employees start thinking of someone as a customer, it should always think customer as someone who will interact with the company, think them as a person rather than thinking them as someone who is not worth bothering. When the business is doing fine, expectations by the customer will rise. Those expectations come some obligations on the part of the owner and also by employees. You have always met those great expectations. In the article posted by Hoyt Mann in Phaseware, (Mann, 2010) he emphasizes the 3 ways to meet customer expectations. First, do not make promises that you cannot fulfil.

If you failed to fulfil the promises, it will mark you as a liar or deceiver. It is the worst labels that your business can get. If your customer cannot trust you, they will not do business with you again. Honestly in the business is appreciated much by the customers. Second, give the customer options. Consumers always want to have an option especially in buying products and getting services. Lastly, utilize all forms of communication without overdoing or exaggerated. Customer most probably ignores it. You should always prioritize the customer and kept them informed.

In every organization, there are different tools and techniques used to measure and eventually meet the customer’s expectations. The first step is to understand what the customers’ expectations are. You need to talk to them or survey them. One way to do this is hiring a consultant who will create a survey to help the organizations define what the customers’ expectations. In the case of small and just started business who cannot afford the fee for the consultant, they can task somebody from the marketing or finance to develop the survey.

Once you gather the response from survey, nail it down to the team and discuss it with the team. Develop a plan on how to deal with what you are not doing right. This plan will need metrics to measure customer satisfaction. Implement the plan and it should be understood by all member of the team in order for everybody understands what needs to be done (Robson,1994). Customer satisfaction was mostly seen as a one-dimensional construction – the higher the perceived product quality, the higher the customer’s satisfaction.

But fulfilling the individual product requirements to a great extent does not necessarily imply a high level of customer satisfaction. It is also the type of requirement which defines the perceived product quality and thus customer satisfaction. KAIZEN PRINCIPLES Kaizen is a Japanese word that means improvement and change for the better. It refers to practices that focus upon continues improvement of processes in manufacturing, engineering and business management (Wikipedia). It has also been applied in healthcare, and NHS is using these principles nowadays.

It is a method to reduce work-in-process on the floor. It is based on the belief that everything in the organization and business can be improved. As explained by Christina Saint Martin, in-house expert in implementing Kaizen system within healthcare organizations, Kaizen is “a method of working which will help us all to identify and eliminate waste and improve the quality of the processes that are part of the healthcare experience. It also ensures that our staffs are supported to deliver the highest quality and safest patient care” (Wirral University Teaching Hospital, 2010).

Kaizen is a big help in NHS because it is the method essential in maintaining and exceeding the level of care that the clients or the patients expecting from the NHS to provide. Kaizen’s principle aims for improvement, effectiveness, safety, and waste reduction and those who follow the approach often find a whole lot more in return (Torrington and Hall, 1995). Inventory is used more efficiently as are employee skills and more people are satisfied as they have direct impact on the process. Team members are more satisfied and most likely to commit doing a good job, thus satisfied customers are more likely to stay.

It focuses on identifying problems at their source, solving them at their source, and changing standards to ensure the problem stays solved. Although Kaizen’s principle is for change and continuous improvement, its consensus can take a long time to reach. It is difficult to start or to introduce a new system because they know where and when to start. THE KANO MODEL The Kano model is a theory of product development and customer satisfaction developed in the 80s by Professor Noriaki Kano. The purpose of the tool is to support product specification and discussion through better development team understanding (Wikipedia).

The Kano model classifies product attributes and their importance based on how they are perceived by customers and their effect on customers satisfaction. Kano argues that the attribute can be classified in three categories (Scribd, 2010): •Threshold or Basic Attributes, characteristics provide the diminishing returns in terms of customer’s satisfaction. The thresholds attributes are also referred to as “must be” attributes suggesting that they must always be present. These are basically the features that the services must have in order to meet customer demands.

These are essential or must attributes and do not offer any opportunity for product or services differentiation. •Performance, characteristics exhibit a linear relationship between perception of attributes performance and customer satisfaction. Strong performance need attributes enhances, while weak performance reduces, satisfaction with the product or services. •Excitement, characteristics are unexpected attributes which generates high levels of customer enthusiasm and satisfactions. I represent characteristics the customer was not expecting but receive as a bonus. MARKET RESEARCH

As defined in Wikipedia, market research is any organized effort to gather information about customers, a very important component of business strategy (Wikipedia). It provides important information to identify and analyse the need and size of the market and competition. Market research use to analyse market demand for any new services or for existing services. Experts recommend that businesses follow a step-by-step approach in order to gain the most benefits from their research. The first step in the market research process is to define the marketing problem to be addressed.

Next, a marketer should determine what information is needed to solve the problem, as well as what sources should be used. The third step involves planning the research that includes selecting techniques to be used for gathering data to be included in the research (Baker, 1995). Quality is often defined as ‘fitness for purpose’. A quality product is one that meets the needs and requirements of the consumers. Quality in customer care can be conceptualized as an alignment of customer’s perceptions of actual service experienced with their service expectations.

Gronroos identifies the two constituents of customer service quality as technical and functional dimensions of quality. Technical aspects of service relate to physical aspects capable of objective measurement by the customer whereas functional aspects relate to the manner in which service is delivered (Baker, 1995). Quality assurance in health care has been an evolutionary process, beginning thousands of years ago with expressions of concern about how to care for other human beings properly.

Perhaps the most notable of these expressions were those recorded by Hippocrates in his discourses on medical ethics (Bauman, 1991). Quality assurance occurs both during and after the event, and is concerned with trying to stop faults from happening in the first place. It is also concerned to ensure that products are produced to predetermined standards. It is the responsibility of the workforce, working in teams. Quality assurance in health care refers to activities and programs intended to assure or improve the quality of care in either a defined medical setting or a program (Citizendium, 2011).

Anyone whom works in the health care industry can attest to the regulations and mandates that invade the system. Health care team rely on quality assurance programs to develop ways up to monitor and ensure that standards are being met. By taking patient outcomes into consideration, we create a feedback system, a communication process helpful to learning in that it effectively opens up the opportunities joining the three elements of health care: (1) structure, (2) process, and (3) patient outcome.

Professor Auedis Donabedian explains the importance of quality assurance in delivering good services within modern healthcare. He suggests that quality in health is the product of two factors; one being the science and technology of healthcare and the other being the application of that science and technology in actual practice (Oxford University Press, 2002). Quality assurance improves the quality of services that will help to increase customer satisfaction. It will lead to maintain regular and loyal customers, customer referrals leading to increase of services needed by customers and profit.

The more knowledgeable the customer is about the length of services in order to provide quality assurance cheeks, the more trusting the consumer will be. CONCLUSION Customer expectations mean that every business should meet or exceed customer needs or wants. This presumes that the customers know exactly what he or she wants. The important thing is to understand what the customer would like the organization to do. Listening carefully and understanding is very important because it is easy to interpret what they say. Service quality is a measure of how well the service level delivered matches customer expectations.

The delivery of high quality services is one of the most important and most difficult tasks that organization faces, thus making service to evaluate. Most customers lack in the skill and knowledge of many types of services especially in NHS. Ideally, every organization should exceed its customer’s expectations; maximize the satisfactions of the customers. As a whole, customers do business on the basis of their desire and wants. Customers tend to descend towards a person or group of people. That is why quality of service is very important in meeting customer expectations.

REFERENCES Baker, M. (1995) Marketing Theory and Practice, 3rd edition; London: Macmillan Press Ltd. Robson, W. (1994) Strategic Management and Information Systems, 2nd edition; London: Clays Ltd. Torrington, D. and Hall, L. (1995) Human Resource Management, 4th edition; Herfordshire: Prentice Hall Europe Bauman, L. (1991) The importance of outcome measurement in quality assurance [Online]. Available at: http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pubmed/2045443 [Accessed: 2 June 2011] Citizendium (2011) Health care Quality Assurance [Online]. Available at: http://en. citizendium. rg/wiki/Health_care_quality_assurance [Accessed: 20 June 2011]. Mann. H. (2010) 3 ways to meet customer expectations [Online]. Available at: http://www. phaseware. com/PhaseWare-Files-blog/bid/33521/3-Ways-to-Meet-Customer-Expectations [Accessed: 23 June 2011]. Oxford University Press (2002) An Introduction to Quality Assurance in Health Care [Online]. Available at: http://intqhc. oxfordjournals. org/content/15/4/357. full [Accessed: 29 May 2011]. Scribd (2010) The Importance of Service Quality and the evaluation of Meeting Customer Expectations [Online].

Available at: http://www. scribd. com/doc/40064424/The-Importance-of-Service-Quality-and-the-Evaluation-of-Meeting-Customer-Expectations [Accessed: 5 June 2011]. Wirral University Teaching Hospital (2010) Kaizen News Issue 1 [Online]. Available at: http://www. whnt. nhs. uk/document_uploads/Kaizen/2852_Kaizen_Newsletter. pdf [Accessed: 10 June 2011]. Wikipedia Kaizen [Online]. Available at: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Kaizen [Accessed: 10 June 2011]. Wikipedia Market Research [Online]. Available at: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Market_research [Accessed: 9 June 2011]


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