Quality (135) National commitment (9) Patient experience and health outcomes (8) Quality of care in Balkan countries

15 July, 2021

One of the salient indicators for measuring national quality of the delivered health care is patients' satisfaction. With the emergence of democratic societies and pluralism in the early 1990s in many Balkan countries (especially under the influence of western developed countries), this exact issue of patients' satisfaction slowly, but steadily gained recognition with the health authorities and with the general population itself - and many countries in the Balkan peninsula endorsed better protection of patients' rights as a result. This type of progress can be directly comparable between countries in order to inform future steps.

Therefore, recognizing common predictors of patients' satisfaction may aid significantly in evaluating (and then further improving) the quality of care in a certain country, which was neglected in the Balkan region until recently. A study by Lazarevik & Kasapinov (doi: 10.5455/aim.2015.23.53-56) aimed to do just that by pursuing a cross-country survey in three Balkan countries - Bulgaria, Serbia and Macedonia. One of the most important lessons from this paper was a recognition that there is a need to explore novel ways of stimulating effective change in health care systems, as well as to change the attitude towards patients in order to build 'client-oriented and provider-efficient' health care services that are still not a characteristic feature of the Balkan region.

Also, the top three indicators of patients' satisfaction across the aforementioned three countries were 1) trust, 2) provider's attention and 3) satisfaction with the treatment outcome. Conversely, long waiting time and burdensome administrative procedures were recognized as common predictors for lower satisfaction (which subsequently translates to lower perceived healthcare quality). Finally, patients' privacy protection was found to be an issue of concern in all three countries, which is increasingly recognized in this region. Hence, taking into account the patients’ opinions should become a salient goal in our quest of improving quality of care in countries around the world.

HIFA profile: Tomislav Mestrovic is a medical doctor and a clinical microbiologist with a PhD in biomedical sciences, and an Assistant Professor at Croatia's youngest public university, University North. He is also passionately invested in global health communication, health literacy, science journalism and science diplomacy. Tomislav was appointed by the Ministry of Science and Education of the Republic of Croatia as a Managing Committee Member to COST Action on evidence-based medicine run by the European Union. He holds several positions in international societies that resulted in many volunteering initiatives. Tomislav is the current holder of the HIFA Country Representative of the Year award (2020) and is also the European coordinator for HIFA Country Representatives. He is also a member of the HIFA-WHO working group on Learning for quality health services.

https://www.hifa.org/projects/learning-quality-health-services

https://www.hifa.org/support/members/tomislav

Email address: Email address: tomislav.mestrovic AT gmail.com