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Patients use your voice: Using the HCAHPS surveys to make yourself heard.

Patients use your voice: Using the HCAHPS surveys to make yourself heard.

It’s no secret that the cost of healthcare in South Africa is bordering on excessive in South Africa, and when you or a loved one are critically ill and emotions are high, the absolute last thing you deserve is an unkind hospital worker, doctor or nurse. This is why the South African Government embraced the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS).

South Africa, like many other countries, has a legal obligation to determine the experiences that patients have with the healthcare they receive, and with the use of HCAHPS surveys, the disparity between the expected level of care and the service received is highlighted. What’s more is that these surveys are then used by healthcare insurers to include or exclude hospitals and clinics from their network of partners, meaning that the patient voice has the power to promote or drastically reduce the number of patients in facilities.

The surveys are applicable to Clinics, Community Health Centres and Hospitals. Further, they are designed to be easy to use, focus on the patient experience, and should be available in all official languages.

An HCAHPS survey prioritises your experience around the following:

  • Access to health services: Focuses on whether or not you had adequate access to the services you needed while in the facility.
  • Access and quality of medicines: Focuses on whether or not the facility had medication available. Medication is a large part of treatment, making this section very important in the feedback survey.
  • Safety: Focuses on how safe you felt during your stay.
  • Cleanliness and infection prevention and control: Healthcare facilities are mandated to maintain a clean environment to prevent infection and the spread of disease. You will need to rate the quality of the bed linen, sanitary areas, cleanliness and health conditions of those around you.
  • Values and attitudes of staff: This question is so important, were you treated like a human being? If you had undergone any difficulty
  • Waiting times: Focuses on the length of time you were made to wait, whether you were told an expected time and whether or not that time exceeded what you were told.

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Depending on the hospital, you may receive a short questionnaire or a survey that covers your stay in depth, with roughly 60 questions. Know that you are entitled to ask for assistance if the survey seems difficult, and you are entitled to be honest, do not let the presence of a doctor or nurse deter you from having your say.

It’s important for you as a patient to know your rights. If you are admitted to a hospital, clinic or community health facility, and the level of expected care is not up to standard, use the HCAHPS survey to express your dissatisfaction, by doing so you’re improving the care for yourself, your loved ones and your community.

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