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Service quality in healthcare: quality improvement initiatives through the prism of patients’ and providers’ perspectives
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE).
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE).
2012 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Efficient functioning of service providing organizations highly depends on quality of their services as it contributes to companies’ competitiveness and customers’ satisfaction (Gill, 2009, p. 533). Thus, quality management should be an integral part of service organizations’ performance. Healthcare industry is a specific representative of the service industry that regards quality as a fundamental value of medical care. To manage quality within the healthcare settings is a challenging task due to its complexity. Hence, the purpose of the current qualitative study was to propose an efficient approach toward quality management within the healthcare industry. In order to be efficient quality management should consider issues that relate to the healthcare organizations’ complexity such as different interests of a wide range of parties involved in healthcare service processes. As mentioned parties are presented by patients, physicians, nurses, receptionists and others, their perceptions of quality could be rather distinctive. So, the first step towards achieving the purpose of the study was to discover an aligned or combined perception of healthcare service quality from patients’ and healthcare service providers’ perspectives. Common perception of quality would give opportunity to focus on improvement of aspects that are essential for the core stakeholders of healthcare organizations. Hence, the second intention that would contribute to efficient quality management was to develop a combined quality management model based on an aligned or combined quality perception. In order to investigate a common perception of quality, we conducted semi-structured individual interviews with patients and healthcare service providers. Having analyzed obtained data we revealed the most vital (sub-) dimensions of service quality for both parties. These aspects relates to the providing information for the patients, emotional support, involving patients into the treatment and having good medical equipment. Also, some important (sub-) dimensions were not stressed by both patients and providers, so we supplemented common (sub-) dimensions with these distinctive aspects. For example, providers mentioned professional skills dimension as the most essential aspect of healthcare service quality. In conclusion, we constructed one common perception of healthcare service quality consisting of common and distinct aspects of healthcare service quality. For the purpose of developing a combined quality management model we selected the most appropriate values, methodologies and tools from such quality management initiatives as TQM, Lean and Six Sigma. The selection was guided by dimensions from the common perception of healthcare service quality. The conducted study contributes to theoretical as well as practical areas. We believe that our research supplemented Quality Management theory by proposing beneficial combinations of TQM, Lean and Six Sigma and Service Quality literature by revealing additional aspects of service quality perception. Practical field will gain from the proposed flexible approach toward assembling quality management model.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 138 p.
Keyword [en]
Service quality, healthcare service quality, perceptions of quality, patients and healthcare service providers, efficient quality management, TQM, Lean, Six Sigma
National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-57078OAI: diva2:539478
Educational program
Master's Programme in Management
Social and Behavioural Science, Law
Available from: 2012-07-04 Created: 2012-07-04 Last updated: 2012-07-04Bibliographically approved

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