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How to select a good healthcare facility

The quality of healthcare in our part of the world is very variable. If you know how to judge, you will easily find health facilities that routinely provide optimal care. If you end up in health facilities more by default rather than deliberate choice, you are likely to end up with mediocre care. Yes, there are universally prescribed standards by which health facilities should abide by. But many don’t, they are in it for the business, everything else comes second.

Why should you bother going through the motions of selecting where to get your healthcare? One of the key determinants of health outcomes is the quality of care you get. By quality I mean a facility with the right infrastructure, well-stocked with supplies, having the right governance structure, and with appropriate staffing. The facility must also have a clear quality monitoring and improvement program. If you end up in such a facility, you are more likely to survive. Get yourself elsewhere, and you are more likely to come out seriously maimed, or dead.

The process of selecting a good healthcare facility isn’t at all complex. Your starting point is being aware of health facilities that exist within your locality. Your instincts will immediately tell you which ones you must avoid at all costs. You will then be left with a handful to select from. You can now critically evaluate each of the facilities that you may want to patronize.

Find out the reputation of each of the facilities. There is enough online information to go by. There is also word of mouth from others who may have visited the facilities. Look up each of the facility’s website, you will get lots of insights about their services. By now, you should have narrowed down to only a few facilities. The next thing is to visit each of them, and then finally decide which of them fits your bill.

You could plan a visit to your selected facilities just to get a feel. Or you could make a dummy clinic appointment and make a better judgment. When you are there, look at the general ambience and the infrastructure. If anything is falling apart, run. Assess the general friendliness of the staff, you should feel wanted, and welcomed with lots of smiles. If they are all grumpy and can’t be bothered to assist, you are in the wrong place. What are the doctors and nurses like? They should give you a feeling of confidence, if in doubt, go to the next facility on your list.

Once you settle on a healthcare facility that appears reputable, you can’t put your guard down. You have to continually expect the best standards. Any compromise in quality should prompt you to look elsewhere. You should only expect and accept the best of care, always.

Dr Alfred Murage is a Consultant Gynecologist and Fertility Specialist.amurage@mygyno.co.ke

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