Application of queuing theory to patient satisfaction at a tertiary hospital in Nigeria
AbstractBackground: Queuing theory is the mathematical approach to the analysis of waiting lines in any setting where arrival rate of subjects is faster than the system can handle. It is applicable to healthcare settings where the systems have excess capacity to accommodate random variations. Materials and Methods: A cross‑sectional descriptive survey was done. Questionnaires were administered to patients who attended the general outpatient department. Observations were also made on the queuing model and the service discipline at the clinic. Questions were meant to obtain demographic characteristics and the time spent on the queue by patients before being seen by a doctor, time spent with the doctor, their views about the time spent on the queue and useful suggestions on how to reduce the time spent on the queue. A total of 210 patients were surveyed. Results: Majority of the patients (164, 78.1%) spent 2 h or less on the queue before being seen by a doctor and less than 1 h to see the doctor. Majority of the patients (144, 68.5%) were satisfied with the time they spent on the queue before being seen by a doctor. Useful suggestions proffered by the patients to decrease the time spent on the queue before seeing a doctor at the clinic included: that more doctors be employed (46, 21.9%), that doctors should come to work on time (25, 11.9%), that first‑come‑first served be observed strictly (32, 15.2%) and others suggested that the records staff should desist from collecting bribes from patients in order to place their cards before others. The queuing method employed at the clinic is the multiple single channel type and the service discipline is priority service. The patients who spent less time on the queue (<1 h) before seeing the doctor were more satisfied than those who spent more time (P < 0.05). Conclusion: The study has revealed that majority of the patients were satisfied with the practice at the general outpatient department. However, there is a need to employ measures to respond to the suggestions given by the patients who are the beneficiaries of the hospital services.
Keywords: Hospital, patients, queue, satisfaction
Nigerian Medical Journal | Vol. 54 | Issue 1 | January-February | 2013