Improvement of Available Medical Services Quality for Thalassemia Patients in Palestine
Atweh, Aysha Sohail
An-Najah National University
In recent years, one of the fastest growing industries in the service sector is the healthcare industry. The rapid growth of the healthcare sector has been accompanied by many dramatic changes. These changes generated extra pressure on healthcare centers to improve their services; especially those related to genetic blood diseases like Thalassemia. In Palestine this disease is considered a difficult and chronic health problem. Despite the attempts of Palestinian healthcare centers for improving and developing their services provided for thalassemia patients, patients still confront many problems and many complains about healthcare service quality are still exist. This research aims to apply a holistic Quality Function Deployment (QFD) model in improving the medical services quality provided to thalassemia patients in Palestine. An exploratory research inquiry using a mixed methodology of both qualitative and quantitative research approaches is used to conduct the study on 291 thalassemia patients in Palestine by using a modified version of SERVQUAL instrument. It has been found that the 'Availability & Accessibility', 'Responsiveness' and 'Assurance' were the most important SERVQUAL dimension for the thalassemia patients in West Bank (WB) besides Gaza Strip (GS). Through benchmarking analysis of the best practices among three selected competitors: WB hospitals, GS hospital and Dubai thalassemia center, the result of the descriptive analysis indicates that healthcare service quality in Palestinian hospitals is generally below patients’ expectations. It has been found that the Dubai center attained the highest rate of satisfaction, while the GS hospital needs to enhance all patients' requirements because the evaluations are under average and lagging behind the competitors especially in the service dimension of 'Availability and Accessibility'. Further, WB hospitals performed better in 'Assurance' and 'Tangibility' but weaker in 'responsiveness' and 'empathy'. Furthermore, it has been found that the 'Staffing' and 'Service delivery' were the most significant technical activities categories that should be improved to satisfy the patients' priorities. Based on the findings of the research, this study concludes to construct the six matrices of House of Quality (HOQ) that is intended to be a helpful managerial planning tool for supporting the successful implementation of TQM in the healthcare system in Palestine. Finally, to make tangible improvements; this study recommends to develop public policies and strategies concerning thalassemia disease, adopt the centralization approach in healthcare provision to thalassemia patients and training the medical staff regarding the proper management protocols of the disease.