Although US health care is described as
"the world's largest service industry," the quality of
service—that is, the characteristics that shape the experience of care
beyond technical competence—is rarely discussed in the medical
literature. This article illustrates service quality principles by
analyzing a routine encounter in health care from a service quality
point of view. This illustration and a review of related literature
from both inside and outside health care has led to the following 2
premises: First, if high-quality service had a greater presence in our
practices and institutions, it would improve clinical outcomes and
patient and physician satisfaction while reducing cost, and it would
create competitive advantage for those who are expert in its
application. Second, many other industries in the service sector have
taken service quality to a high level, their techniques are readily
transferable to health care, and physicians caring for patients can
learn from them.
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