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Updated: Sep 30, 2021

Primary healthcare services are important for personal, family-oriented care, continuous, and comprehensive care plans. A good primary healthcare provider is always available, team-based and collaborative; coordinated and integrated; accessible and of high value.

National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), Kenya recommends one to choose a primary healthcare facility for outpatient services. Although members can choose and change their outpatient hospital, it is not always easy to find the best and most preferred outpatient hospital. Before you choose an outpatient service provider, there are important things that you need to consider about the hospital.

What you need to consider

1. Availability

Your primary healthcare provider is the first person you need to contact when you have a health problem. A good primary care provider should always be available, in case of emergencies. How easy is it to reach the outpatient hospital? Does the hospital or provider use telehealth? How do you access their services in case of an emergency?

2. Location

What are the available primary healthcare providers in your place? How far is your outpatient hospital or primary healthcare provider from your home or office? Proximity to your primary healthcare provider is key during emergencies.

3. Services Offered

Does your outpatient hospital offer the services that you may need, such as, laboratory, radiology, drug administration, and dispensation or physiotherapy? If you are suffering from a chronic condition such as HIV/AIDS, Diabetes, Asthma, Hypertension, or cancer, you should make sure they are capable of managing the condition. Do you prefer a provider focused on disease treatment, or wellness and prevention?

4. Service Delivery

Quality of service delivery is fundamental to better care delivery and patient outcomes. Is the hospital staff friendly and helpful? Is the provider good about returning calls? Do you prefer a provider whose communication style is friendly and warm, or more formal?

5. Operation Hours

Patients should have regular check-ups with their primary health providers. A good primary healthcare provider should have an operations hours schedule that you can easily plan yourself according to daily activities. Make sure the provider's operation hours are convenient to your schedule?

6. Cost of treatment

Before choosing an outpatient hospital, make sure you know an estimate of their charges, and you can afford to pay for extra charges if need be. Does the provider have a conservative or aggressive approach to treatment? Does the provider order a lot of tests and procedures? This helps you in budgeting for health, even though budgeting for health is never accurate.

7. Patient-Provider/Facility Relationship

What do people and the community or other patients say about the provider or the facility? Does the hospital/provider refer to other specialists frequently or infrequently? Does the health provider involve patients in their care? How does the provider view your patient-provider relationship as a true partnership or business?

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