Service quality of hospital outpatient departments: patients’ perspective
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© 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Purpose – Assessment of patient perceptions of health service quality as an important element in quality assessments has attracted much attention in recent years. The purpose of this paper is to assess the service quality of hospital outpatient departments affiliated to Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences from the patients’ perspective. Design/methodology/approach – This cross-sectional study was conducted in 2014 in Tehran, Iran. The study samples included 500 patients who were selected by multi-stage random sampling from four hospitals. The data collection instrument was a questionnaire consisting of 50 items, and the validity and reliability of the questionnaire were confirmed. For data analysis, exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, Friedman test, and descriptive statistics were used through LISREL 8.54 and SPSS 18 applications. Findings – Eight significant factors were extracted for outpatient service quality, which explained about 67 per cent of the total variance. Physician consultation, information provided to the patient, and the physical environment of the clinic were the three determining factors of the quality of outpatient services. The highest and lowest perceptions were related to physician consultation and perceived waiting time dimension, respectively. The mean score of patients’ perception of outpatient service quality was 3.89 (±0.60). About 59.5 per cent of patients assessed the quality of outpatient services as good, 38.2 per cent as moderate, and 2.3 per cent as poor. Practical implications – The instrument developed for this study is valid and reliable, and it can help hospital managers to identify the areas needing improvement and correction. Originality/value – According to the findings of this study, the majority of patients had a positive experience with outpatient departments of teaching hospitals, and the services provided in these centres were of adequate quality, based on patient assessments.