By Treezer Michelle Atieno
Tharaka Nithi County is using a unique mechanism to track service delivery in healthcare. It is a simple yet powerful tool: follow-up calls. This innovative approach to healthcare service delivery is proving to be a game-changer, not just in Tharaka Nithi but potentially for the entire nation.
Imagine this scenario: you’re sick, and in need of medical attention, and you decide to visit a local hospital in Tharaka Nithi County. After receiving treatment and returning home, your phone rings. To your surprise, it’s a call from the Tharaka Nithi County Government. They’re not asking for donations or offering political promises; they’re calling to inquire about your recent hospital visit. They want to know about your experience, whether the service met your expectations, and if there were any issues you encountered.
This proactive approach to collecting patient feedback and addressing concerns is part of an initiative aimed at improving healthcare service delivery in Kenya. It’s a strategy that has the potential to transform the healthcare landscape across the nation.
Patient feedback has long been recognized as a crucial tool for healthcare improvement worldwide. In Kenya, as in many countries, the healthcare system faces a range of challenges, including inadequate funding, lack of medical supplies, and poor service delivery. These challenges often result in subpar service quality, leaving patients frustrated and dissatisfied.
Recent reports from the last two years have highlighted the magnitude of these challenges. In July 2020, a report by the Kenya Medical Association (KMA) revealed that many public hospitals in Kenya were understaffed, with some hospitals lacking essential specialists such as anesthetists and pediatricians. The report also noted that many doctors and nurses were overworked, leading to burnout and poor patient care.
In August 2020, a survey by the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) found that many health facilities in Kenya had poor sanitation and hygiene practices, increasing the risk of infection and disease transmission. The survey also found that many health workers did not adhere to proper hand hygiene practices, putting patients at risk.
In October of the same year, a report by the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) found that corruption was rampant in Kenya’s healthcare system, with many health workers and officials engaging in corrupt practices such as bribery and embezzlement. The report also noted that there was a lack of accountability in the healthcare system, making it difficult to address corruption and poor service delivery.
By actively seeking patient feedback, Tharaka Nithi County Government could achieve several outcomes, for instance, immediate issue resolution, quality improvement, enhanced accountability of the healthcare providers, and Increased Trust.
The follow-up calls in Tharaka Nithi County are a model that could be embraced in the whole country. By implementing similar programs across the country, the government can work toward a more patient-centered healthcare system. This approach not only leads to better healthcare experiences for individuals but also contributes to better health outcomes at the population level.
While the follow-up calls initiative shows immense promise, it’s not without its challenges. Sustaining such programs, ensuring data privacy, and addressing the digital divide are among the hurdles that must be overcome.
However, the potential benefits far outweigh the challenges. By actively engaging with patients, the Kenyan healthcare system can become more responsive, efficient, and accountable. It’s a journey toward a healthcare system where every patient receives the care they deserve.