Measuring customer satisfaction with sexual reproductive health service delivery at township healthcare facilities using the servqual model
Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.
Providing quality primary healthcare services in a scarce resource environment in South Africa is a challenge. This is exacerbated by segments of the population experiencing high unemployment and extreme poverty leading to a prevalence of diseases such as HIV/Aids and Tuberculosis. Long queues and staff shortages have led to the Department of Health decentralising the primary healthcare system into district facilities, with the intention of offering greater access to equitable healthcare for all South Africans. Sexual reproductive health falls under the category of primary healthcare and is a specialised function, often carried out by inadequately trained providers using quota systems, who consider this essential service to be a low priority. The area of sexual reproductive health includes termination of pregnancy, contraception, treatment of sexually transmitted infections and cancer screening. Although termination of pregnancy is legal in South Africa, reluctance on the part of service providers to offer this service, due to conscientious objection has created a shortage of safe, legal healthcare facilities. In an effort to provide these life-saving services, non-governmental organisations are attempting to fill the service delivery shortfall. With the assistance of international donor funding, Marie Stopes South Africa has established a number of sexual reproductive healthcare facilities in townships in Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal. These services take place from basic structures located within communities most in need of healthcare, and offer a range of sexual reproductive health services at low cost to men and women of reproductive age. As the operational focus is on provision of services otherwise not available, the organisation has not measured the levels of customer satisfaction adequately to date. Due to the preventative and potentially life-saving nature of these services, improved customer satisfaction levels could, through word of mouth advertising and customer retention, increase the use of these facilities by community members, reduce numbers of unplanned pregnancies, and ultimately contribute to a decrease in the incidence of maternal mortality due to unsafe abortions. In this study, the SERVQUAL instrument will measure the gap between customer expectations prior to services received, and perceptions of the services post-delivery, in order to establish the current service quality gaps in township healthcare facilities. Management of the organisation will use this information to implement actions to improve customer satisfaction and monitor the impact of these actions, with the aim of increasing positive word-of-mouth advertising, leading to greater use of services and ultimately the long-term sustainability of the facilities.