HYDERABAD: Getting registered and consulting a doctor at any of the government tertiary hospitals in Hyderabad requires one to be extremely patient, even if they are suffering from a severe illness.
According to a study conducted at the Gandhi Hospital, the waiting time was more than two hours for 38 per cent of the patients, who were suffering from chronic diseases, and 30 per cent of those with acute diseases.
On an average, one in three persons visiting the hospital’s outpatient wing had to wait for over two hours.
The study, published in the journal Annals of Community Health, surveyed 740 patients visiting the hospital’s outpatient department.
The findings highlighted various other issues that people face at the facility, on which they expect action from the authorities.
One of the issues was of the unavailability of medicines at the hospital’s pharmacy and the absence of testing facilities. Fifty two per cent patients said they could not get the prescribed drugs at the pharmacy and 34 per cent said the diagnostic test they required was not available either.
Thus, on an average, the patients’ out-of-pocket expenditure on diagnostic tests was Rs 698 and on drugs was Rs 339.
Poor patients, who are dependent on daily wages, were found to be coughing up Rs 393 every time they visited the hospital.
Also, 41 per cent said they found it difficult to navigate around the hospital to find a doctor or a health facility, and 25 per cent complained of sanitation-related problems.
Public health expert Dr Santosh Kumar Kraleti said there is a need for a multi-pronged approach to resolve these issues.
Ideally, this would involve taking up Time-Motion studies to identify how long it takes for a patient to move from registration to consultation, utilising ticket-generating software to reduce waiting times, engaging motivated volunteers at help desks, having an active hospital management team and ensuring efficient supply chain management for the availability of medicines at hospital pharmacies.
“Many government services, such as the passport office, have partnered with technology companies to develop ticketing software that have drastically reduced the waiting time. Government hospitals also need to do the same,” he said. The study was conducted by researchers from Gandhi Hospital’s Community Medicine department.