JIS News

Established by the Kingston Public and Victoria Jubilee Hospitals in November last year to boost the collection of user fees and provide better customer service, the business unit which serves patients at both hospitals, is reporting reasonable success.
Acting Director of Finance at the hospitals, Dwayne Bailey tells JIS News that since the business unit’s introduction, user fee collection is averaging $10.2 million per month, $1 million more than what was collected before the implementation of the unit.
“Prior to the setting up of the unit, our collection was on the average, about $8.7 to $9 million per month,” he discloses.
Mr. Bailey explains that the business unit has contributed to a turnaround in the collection of fees being paid, and is meeting one of its key objectives, that of maximising cost recovery for the two institutions.
He says the initiative to establish the unit was driven by the fact that there was a monetary inadequacy in the allocation provided by government to maintain the monthly expenditure of the hospitals, thus creating the need to make up the shortfall.
The business unit, he says, was conceived to act as a “check-in and check-out point” for patients, to effectively monitor their length of stay in the hospitals. He notes that this mechanism affords patients the opportunity to voice their concerns as it relates to their treatment and stay, and also allows the hospitals “to capture more information from patients and ensure that everyone who leaves receives a final bill”.
The creation of the business unit is meant to bring focus, primarily to improve the delivery of health care at the hospitals; increase fee collection and reduce receivables; improve staff efficiency and productivity; and create a customer-friendly organisation.
Subsequent to the increase in the collection of user fees, Mr. Bailey says “we are also tightening up on other service areas where we think we might have been losing revenues”.
He tells JIS News that concerted efforts have been made to streamline the process of admitting patients to the hospitals, pointing out that in the past, patients had to traverse all over the hospitals to conduct a variety of service-oriented activities. The business unit is therefore intended to act as a one-stop service centre.
“Before, patients were going all over the compound.you come in and go to the clinic, you are told you are being admitted, you have to go to one point to pay your fees, and then to [another point].now with the business unit concept, all of these functional areas are under one roof,” Mr. Bailey says.
Under the revamped system, he points out that “once you are here for admission, you go straight to the business unit, you are admitted to the system and interviewed.everything is done. Then you are taken by a porter directly to the ward”.
Mr. Bailey says that incoming patients are now saved unnecessary time from visiting a myriad of departments. “Patients who are coming in don’t have to be all over the compound accessing different functionalities before they are admitted. So on the customer service side, this has really improved,” the Director of Finance adds.
The transformation brought by the business unit has also impacted positively on the work of staff members, with working hours being maximised. As the hospitals’ previous service areas have now merged into a single unit, he says whereas one assessment officer used to be physically assigned to almost two wards, “now with the business unit, we can have these same officers [working] in the unit”.
“We have become more efficient by proper utilisation of our human resources,” he notes.
The unit is now open from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily, an improvement from the regular 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. working day that once existed. The additional eight hours of work time, he says, is a definite plus for the hospital.
He says staff members at the hospitals have become increasingly co-operative with the changes that have been made, noting that assessment officers “are more vigilant”.
The Director of Finance says that in the thrust to maximise cost recovery, the hospitals have also employed cashiers to work in the pharmacy, “to ensure that persons are paying at the point of entry”, as in the past, there were no cashiers.
Speaking of the long term expectations for the nine-month initiative, Mr. Bailey informs JIS News that based on the last client survey, he is anticipating improved customer satisfaction, as well as a further increase in the collection of fees.
He says that patients should not view the whole assessment process as anything against them. “It is just that the hospitals are really in need of funds and this initiative is really not to get more money out of the patients alone, it is to ensure we maximise our cost recovery efforts so we can improve the service we offer,” Mr. Bailey adds.