|How to cite this article:
Mahapatra T. A cross-sectional study on patient satisfaction toward services received at a rural health center, Chandigarh, North India. Ann Trop Med Public Health 2013;6:267-8
|How to cite this URL:
Mahapatra T. A cross-sectional study on patient satisfaction toward services received at a rural health center, Chandigarh, North India. Ann Trop Med Public Health [serial online] 2013 [cited 2016 Aug 18];6:267-8. Available from: https://www.atmph.org/text.asp?2013/6/3/267/120980
Patient satisfaction toward services received at healthcare centers is considered to be an important indicator for the quality of healthcare functioning. Assessment of patient satisfaction and its various correlates is critical for efficient planning and monitoring of the healthcare system. Health system responsiveness is a new concept developed by World Health Organization (WHO), which specifically describes the social and operational environment to which a patient is exposed while seeking treatment in a healthcare center. , Patients’ satisfaction is also a powerful predictor of their health-related behavior like willingness to seek healthcare, completion of prescribed treatment regime, compliance, switching providers, as well as their co-operation, which is explicitly indicated in the said article. All of these factors are expected to influence treatment outcomes in turn.
The author of the present article is in agreement with the observations made by Epstein et al. who pointed out that user-driven healthcare is expected to improve the disease outcomes and quality of life of the patients more efficiently.  The author also argued that patient perception regarding quality of healthcare determines the extent of utilization of available healthcare services, but this fact is often ignored by healthcare providers. Based on their previous experiences, patients are often reluctant in seeking care from public hospitals frequently, resulting in late presentations and complications. The scenario is often further demoralizing in rural healthcare centers due to lack of proper infrastructure. It was opined in the current article that patients’ satisfaction and their feedback are important for improving the quality of healthcare services and can be operationalized involving patient inputs and expert opinion which is also well captured in a systematic review by Naidu et al.
Some important issues as mentioned by the author need to be addressed more extensively like role of educational status of patient in doctor-patient relationship, privacy of patient while receiving treatment, and average waiting time for consultancy. Similar issues have received much attention in a cross-sectional study by Kumari et al. among patients attending government hospital where faith on physician and waiting time for consultancy were identified to be the important determinants predicting patients’ health-seeking behavior.  Another study in healthcare centers in North India reported that willingness of patients to record their concerns about services they received in healthcare center could serve as an important tool for improving the quality of care. 
However, it would be too simplistic to explore the relationship between patient satisfaction and various socio-demographic factors using a cross-sectional study design where temporality is an issue. We need to design a longitudinal study for better understanding of such possible associations.
I strongly support the fact which is clearly mentioned in this article that consumer satisfaction plays an important role in measuring and improving the quality of healthcare services, for which we need to increase the awareness level of people regarding their felt health need and perceived need. Much more efforts should be directed toward formation of an integrated National Health System ensuring affordable, accessible, and equitable care to all with support from the government. I believe a comprehensive health information and surveillance system should be established for assessing the current health situation, along with proper training of medical personnel at a regular interval.
Healthcare accessibility, quality of care provided, and its cost are the three domains of high priority which influence patients’ health-related behavior.  In India, the second populous country after China, providing affordable quality care is a big challenge where 80% healthcare centers, both public and private, are located in urban areas which cater only 30% population.  There is a huge disparity in the demand of quality care and the actual supply. Majority of the healthcare centers are understaffed, have poorly maintained medical equipments, and lack necessary laboratory support.  We need to build a sustainable public-private partnership in hospital industry for improving the existing infrastructure and also for providing safe health care. For overall improvement of quality care and patient satisfaction, in my opinion, there should be a continuity of care by integrating primary healthcare center with district level hospitals, more emphasis should be laid on women and child health, and the most essential thing to do is proper identification along with timely and appropriate management of emergency cases.
In my opinion, further research is needed to explore the socio-cultural determinants of patient satisfaction with the quality of care they receive in healthcare system. It should be an integrated multipronged approach involving patient, healthcare providers, as well as political leaders, media, and other stakeholders, so that a culturally appropriate policy can be developed and implemented in a cost-effective manner for providing a sustainable and comprehensive healthcare. I think much more research is also required to develop a standardized method for measuring patient satisfaction, to determine the criteria for assessing quality of health care, to figure out other alternative approaches for estimating patient perception, and to establish the sensitivity of different patient satisfaction models so that the findings can be compared across studies.
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None