Patients’ perspective on the role of their complaints in the regulatory process

R.J.R. Bouwman, M. Bomhoff, P. Robben, R.D. Friele

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Abstract

Background
Governments in several countries are facing problems concerning the accountability of regulators in health care. Questions have been raised about how patients' complaints should be valued in the regulatory process. However, it is not known what patients who made complaints expect to achieve in the process of health-care quality regulation.
Objective
To assess expectations and experiences of patients who complained to the regulator.
Design
Interviews were conducted with 11 people, and a questionnaire was submitted to 343 people who complained to the Dutch Health-care Inspectorate. The Inspectorate handled 92 of those complaints. This decision was based on the idea that the Inspectorate should only deal with complaints that relate to ‘structural and severe’ problems.
Results
The response rate was 54%. Self-reported severity of physical injury of complaints that were not handled was significantly lower than of complaints that were. Most respondents felt that their complaint indicated a structural and severe problem that the Inspectorate should act upon. The desire for penalties or personal satisfaction played a lesser role. Only a minority felt that their complaint had led to improvements in health-care quality.
Conclusions
Patients and the regulator share a common goal: improving health-care quality. However, patients' perceptions of the complaints' relevance differ from the regulator's perceptions. Regulators should favour more responsive approaches, going beyond assessing against exclusively clinical standards to identify the range of social problems associated with complaints about health care. Long-term learning commitment through public participation mechanisms can enhance accountability and improve the detection of problems in health care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483–496
JournalHealth Expectations
Volume19
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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Delivery of Health Care
Wounds and Injuries
Surveys and Questionnaires
Community Participation

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Bouwman, R.J.R. ; Bomhoff, M. ; Robben, P. ; Friele, R.D. / Patients’ perspective on the role of their complaints in the regulatory process. In: Health Expectations. 2016 ; Vol. 19, No. 2. pp. 483–496.
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title = "Patients’ perspective on the role of their complaints in the regulatory process",
abstract = "BackgroundGovernments in several countries are facing problems concerning the accountability of regulators in health care. Questions have been raised about how patients' complaints should be valued in the regulatory process. However, it is not known what patients who made complaints expect to achieve in the process of health-care quality regulation.ObjectiveTo assess expectations and experiences of patients who complained to the regulator.DesignInterviews were conducted with 11 people, and a questionnaire was submitted to 343 people who complained to the Dutch Health-care Inspectorate. The Inspectorate handled 92 of those complaints. This decision was based on the idea that the Inspectorate should only deal with complaints that relate to ‘structural and severe’ problems.ResultsThe response rate was 54{\%}. Self-reported severity of physical injury of complaints that were not handled was significantly lower than of complaints that were. Most respondents felt that their complaint indicated a structural and severe problem that the Inspectorate should act upon. The desire for penalties or personal satisfaction played a lesser role. Only a minority felt that their complaint had led to improvements in health-care quality.ConclusionsPatients and the regulator share a common goal: improving health-care quality. However, patients' perceptions of the complaints' relevance differ from the regulator's perceptions. Regulators should favour more responsive approaches, going beyond assessing against exclusively clinical standards to identify the range of social problems associated with complaints about health care. Long-term learning commitment through public participation mechanisms can enhance accountability and improve the detection of problems in health care.",
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Patients’ perspective on the role of their complaints in the regulatory process. / Bouwman, R.J.R.; Bomhoff, M.; Robben, P.; Friele, R.D.

In: Health Expectations, Vol. 19, No. 2, 2016, p. 483–496.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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N2 - BackgroundGovernments in several countries are facing problems concerning the accountability of regulators in health care. Questions have been raised about how patients' complaints should be valued in the regulatory process. However, it is not known what patients who made complaints expect to achieve in the process of health-care quality regulation.ObjectiveTo assess expectations and experiences of patients who complained to the regulator.DesignInterviews were conducted with 11 people, and a questionnaire was submitted to 343 people who complained to the Dutch Health-care Inspectorate. The Inspectorate handled 92 of those complaints. This decision was based on the idea that the Inspectorate should only deal with complaints that relate to ‘structural and severe’ problems.ResultsThe response rate was 54%. Self-reported severity of physical injury of complaints that were not handled was significantly lower than of complaints that were. Most respondents felt that their complaint indicated a structural and severe problem that the Inspectorate should act upon. The desire for penalties or personal satisfaction played a lesser role. Only a minority felt that their complaint had led to improvements in health-care quality.ConclusionsPatients and the regulator share a common goal: improving health-care quality. However, patients' perceptions of the complaints' relevance differ from the regulator's perceptions. Regulators should favour more responsive approaches, going beyond assessing against exclusively clinical standards to identify the range of social problems associated with complaints about health care. Long-term learning commitment through public participation mechanisms can enhance accountability and improve the detection of problems in health care.

AB - BackgroundGovernments in several countries are facing problems concerning the accountability of regulators in health care. Questions have been raised about how patients' complaints should be valued in the regulatory process. However, it is not known what patients who made complaints expect to achieve in the process of health-care quality regulation.ObjectiveTo assess expectations and experiences of patients who complained to the regulator.DesignInterviews were conducted with 11 people, and a questionnaire was submitted to 343 people who complained to the Dutch Health-care Inspectorate. The Inspectorate handled 92 of those complaints. This decision was based on the idea that the Inspectorate should only deal with complaints that relate to ‘structural and severe’ problems.ResultsThe response rate was 54%. Self-reported severity of physical injury of complaints that were not handled was significantly lower than of complaints that were. Most respondents felt that their complaint indicated a structural and severe problem that the Inspectorate should act upon. The desire for penalties or personal satisfaction played a lesser role. Only a minority felt that their complaint had led to improvements in health-care quality.ConclusionsPatients and the regulator share a common goal: improving health-care quality. However, patients' perceptions of the complaints' relevance differ from the regulator's perceptions. Regulators should favour more responsive approaches, going beyond assessing against exclusively clinical standards to identify the range of social problems associated with complaints about health care. Long-term learning commitment through public participation mechanisms can enhance accountability and improve the detection of problems in health care.

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