BACKGROUND: In Peru, a majority of individuals bypass primary care facilities even for routine services. Efforts to strengthen primary care must be informed by understanding of current practice. We conducted a time motion assessment in primary care facilities in Lima with the goals of assessing the feasibility of this method in an urban health care setting in Latin America and of providing policy makers with empirical evidence on the use of health care provider time in primary care. METHODS: This cross-sectional continuous observation time motion study took place from July - September 2019. We used two-stage sampling to draw a sample of shifts for doctors, nurses, and midwives in primary health facilities and applied the Work Observation Method by Activity Timing tool to capture type and duration of provider activities over a 6-h shift. We summarized time spent on patient care, paper and electronic record-keeping, and non-work (personal and inactive) activities across provider cadres. Observations are weighted by inverse probability of selection. RESULTS: Two hundred seventy-five providers were sampled from 60 facilities; 20% could not be observed due to provider absence (2% schedule error, 8% schedule change, 10% failure to appear). One hundred seventy-four of the 220 identified providers consented (79.1%) and were observed for a total of 898 h of provider time comprising 30,312 unique tasks. Outpatient shifts included substantial time on patient interaction (110, 82, and 130 min for doctors, nurses, and midwives respectively) and on paper records (132, 97, and 141 min) on average. Across all shifts, 1 in 6 h was spent inactive or on personal activities. Two thirds of midwives used computers compared to half of nurses and one third of doctors. CONCLUSIONS: The time motion study is a feasible method to capture primary care operations in Latin American countries and inform health system strengthening. In the case of Lima, absenteeism undermines health worker availability in primary care facilities, and inactive time further erodes health workforce availability. Productive time is divided between patient-facing activities and a substantial burden of paper-based record keeping for clinical and administrative purposes. Electronic health records remain incompletely integrated within routine care, particularly beyond midwifery.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made vivid the need for resilient, high-quality health systems and presents an opportunity to reconsider how to build such systems. Although even well resourced, well performing health systems have struggled at various points to cope with surges of COVID-19, experience suggests that establishing health system foundations based on clear aims, adequate resources, and effective constraints and incentives is crucial for consistent provision of high-quality care, and that these cannot be replaced by piecemeal quality improvement interventions. We identify four mutually reinforcing structural investments that could transform health system performance in resource-constrained countries: revamping health provider education, redesigning platforms for care delivery, instituting strategic purchasing and management strategies, and developing patient-level data systems. Countries should seize the political and moral energy provided by the COVID-19 pandemic to build health systems fit for the future.
Large disparities in maternal and neonatal mortality exist between low- and high-income countries. Mothers and babies continue to die at high rates in many countries despite substantial increases in facility birth. One reason for this may be the current design of health systems in most low-income countries where, unlike in high-income countries, a substantial proportion of births occur in primary care facilities that cannot offer definitive care for complications. We argue that the current inequity in care for childbirth is a global double standard that limits progress on maternal and newborn survival. We propose that health systems need to be redesigned to shift all deliveries to hospitals or other advanced care facilities to bring care in line with global best practice. Health system redesign will require investing in high-quality hospitals with excellent midwifery and obstetric care, boosting quality of primary care clinics for antenatal, postnatal, and newborn care, decreasing access and financial barriers, and mobilizing populations to demand high-quality care. Redesign is a structural reform that is contingent on political leadership that envisions a health system designed to deliver high-quality, respectful care to all women giving birth. Getting redesign right will require focused investments, local design and adaptation, and robust evaluation.
Objective: To estimate the use of hospitals for four essential primary care services offered in health centres in low- and middle-income countries and to explore differences in quality between hospitals and health centres. Methods: We extracted data from all demographic and health surveys conducted since 2010 on the type of facilities used for obtaining contraceptives, routine antenatal care and care for minor childhood diarrhoea and cough or fever. Using mixed-effects logistic regression models we assessed associations between hospital use and individual and country-level covariates. We assessed competence of care based on the receipt of essential clinical actions during visits. We also analysed three indicators of user experience from countries with available service provision assessment survey data. Findings: On average across 56 countries, public hospitals were used as the sole source of care by 16.9% of 126 012 women who obtained contraceptives, 23.1% of 418 236 women who received routine antenatal care, 19.9% of 47 677 children with diarrhoea and 18.5% of 82 082 children with fever or cough. Hospital use was more common in richer countries with higher expenditures on health per capita and among urban residents and wealthier, better-educated women. Antenatal care quality was higher in hospitals in 44 countries. In a subset of eight countries, people using hospitals tended to spend more, report more problems and be somewhat less satisfied with the care received. Conclusion: As countries work towards achieving ambitious health goals, they will need to assess care quality and user preferences to deliver effective primary care services that people want to use.
BACKGROUND: Appropriate clinical management of malaria in children is critical for preventing progression to severe disease and for reducing the continued high burden of malaria mortality. This study aimed to assess the quality of care provided to children under 5 diagnosed with malaria across 9 sub-Saharan African countries. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We used data from the Service Provision Assessment (SPA) survey. SPAs are nationally representative facility surveys capturing quality of sick-child care, facility readiness, and provider and patient characteristics. The data set contained 24,756 direct clinical observations of outpatient sick-child visits across 9 countries, including Uganda (2007), Rwanda (2007), Namibia (2009), Kenya (2010), Malawi (2013), Senegal (2013-2017), Ethiopia (2014), Tanzania (2015), and Democratic Republic of the Congo (2018). We assessed the proportion of children with a malaria diagnosis who received a blood test diagnosis and an appropriate antimalarial. We used multilevel logistic regression to assess facility and provider and patient characteristics associated with these outcomes. Subgroup analyses with the 2013-2018 country surveys only were conducted for all outcomes. Children observed were on average 20.5 months old and were most commonly diagnosed with respiratory infection (47.7%), malaria (29.7%), and/or gastrointestinal infection (19.7%). Among the 7,340 children with a malaria diagnosis, 32.5% (95% CI: 30.3%-34.7%) received both a blood-test-based diagnosis and an appropriate antimalarial. The proportion of children with a blood test diagnosis and an appropriate antimalarial ranged from 3.4% to 57.1% across countries. In the more recent surveys (2013-2018), 40.7% (95% CI: 37.7%-43.6%) of children with a malaria diagnosis received both a blood test diagnosis and appropriate antimalarial. Roughly 20% of children diagnosed with malaria received no antimalarial at all, and nearly 10% received oral artemisinin monotherapy, which is not recommended because of concerns regarding parasite resistance. Receipt of a blood test diagnosis and appropriate antimalarial was positively correlated with being seen at a facility with diagnostic equipment in stock (adjusted OR 3.67; 95% CI: 2.72-4.95) and, in the 2013-2018 subsample, with being seen at a facility with Artemisinin Combination Therapies (ACTs) in stock (adjusted OR 1.60; 95% CI:1.04-2.46). However, even if all children diagnosed with malaria were seen by a trained provider at a facility with diagnostics and medicines in stock, only a predicted 37.2% (95% CI: 34.2%-40.1%) would have received a blood test and appropriate antimalarial (44.4% for the 2013-2018 subsample). Study limitations include the lack of confirmed malaria test results for most survey years, the inability to distinguish between a diagnosis of uncomplicated or severe malaria, the absence of other relevant indicators of quality of care including dosing and examinations, and that only 9 countries were studied. CONCLUSIONS: In this study, we found that a majority of children diagnosed with malaria across the 9 surveyed sub-Saharan African countries did not receive recommended care. Clinical management is positively correlated with the stocking of essential commodities and is somewhat improved in more recent years, but important quality gaps remain in the countries studied. Continued reductions in malaria mortality will require a bigger push toward quality improvements in clinical care.
Introduction: In the era of Sustainable Development Goals, reducing maternal and neonatal mortality is a priority. With one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the world, Malawi has a significant opportunity for improvement. One effort to improve maternal outcomes involves increasing access to high-quality health facilities for delivery. This study aimed to determine the role that quality plays in women's choice of delivery facility. Methods: A revealed-preference latent class analysis was performed with data from 6625 facility births among women in Malawi from 2013 to 2014. Responses were weighted for national representativeness, and model structure and class number were selected using the Bayesian information criterion. Results: Two classes of preferences exist for pregnant women in Malawi. Most of the population 65.85% (95% CI 65.847% to 65.853%) prefer closer facilities that do not charge fees. The remaining third (34.15%, 95% CI 34.147% to 34.153%) prefers central hospitals, facilities with higher basic obstetric readiness scores and locations further from home. Women in this class are more likely to be older, literate, educated and wealthier than the majority of women. Conclusion: For only one-third of pregnant Malawian women, structural quality of care, as measured by basic obstetric readiness score, factored into their choice of facility for delivery. Most women instead prioritise closer care and care without fees. Interventions designed to increase access to high-quality care in Malawi will need to take education, distance, fees and facility type into account, as structural quality alone is not predictive of facility type selection in this population.
OBJECTIVES: To assess input and process capacity for basic delivery and newborn (intrapartum care hereafter) care in the Indian public health system and to describe differences in facility capacity between rural and urban areas and across states. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. SETTING: Data from the nationally representative 2012-2014 District Level Household and Facility Survey, which includes a census of community health centres (CHC) and sample of primary health centres (PHC) across 30 states and union territories in India. PARTICIPANTS: 8536 PHCs and 4810 CHCs. OUTCOME MEASURES: We developed a summative index of 33 structural and process capacity items matching the Indian Public Health Standards for PHCs as a metric of minimum facility capacity for intrapartum care. We assessed differences in performance on this index across facility type and location. RESULTS: About 30% of PHCs and 5% of CHCs reported not offering any intrapartum care. Among those offering services, volumes were low: median monthly delivery volume was 8 (IQR=13) in PHCs and 41 (IQR=73) in CHCs. Both PHCs and CHCs failed to meet the national standards for basic intrapartum care capacity. Mean facility capacity was low in PHCs in both urban (0.64) and rural (0.63) areas, while in CHCs, capacity was slightly higher in urban areas (0.77vs0.74). Gaps were most striking in availability of skilled human resources and emergency obstetric services. Poor capacity facilities were more concentrated in the more impoverished states, with 37% of districts from these states receiving scores in the lowest third of the facility capacity index (<0.70), compared with 21% of districts otherwise. CONCLUSIONS: Basic intrapartum care capacity in Indian public primary care facilities is weak in both rural and urban areas, especially lacking in the poorest states with worst health outcomes. Improving maternal and newborn health outcomes will require focused attention to quality measurement, accountability mechanisms and quality improvement. Policies to address deficits in skilled providers and emergency service availability are urgently required.
BACKGROUND: Despite the substantial attention to primary care (PC), few studies have addressed the relationship between patients' experience with PC and their health status in low-and middle-income countries. This study aimed to (1) test the association between overall patient-centered PC experience (OPCE) and self-rated health (SRH) and (2) identify specific features of patient-centered PC associated with better SRH (i.e., excellent or very good SRH) in 6 Latin American and Caribbean countries. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We conducted a secondary analysis of a 2013 public opinion cross-sectional survey on perceptions and experiences with healthcare systems in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Jamaica, Mexico, and Panama; the data were nationally representative for urban populations. We analyzed 9 features of patient-centered PC. We calculated OPCE score as the arithmetic mean of the PC features. OPCE score ranged from 0 to 1, where 0 meant that the participant did not have any of the 9 patient-centered PC experiences, while 1 meant that he/she reported having all these experiences. After testing for interaction on the additive scale, we analyzed countries pooled for aim 1, with an interaction term for Mexico, and each country separately for aim 2. We used multiple Poisson regression models double-weighted by survey and inverse probability weights to deal with the survey design and missing data. The study included 6,100 participants. The percentage of participants with excellent or very good SRH ranged from 29.5% in Mexico to 52.4% in Jamaica. OPCE was associated with reporting excellent or very good SRH in all countries: adjusting for socio-demographic and health covariates, patients with an OPCE score of 1 in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Jamaica, and Panama were more likely to report excellent or very good SRH than those with a score of 0 (adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR] 1.61, 95% CI 1.37-1.90, p < 0.001); in Mexico, this association was even stronger (aPR 4.27, 95% CI 2.34-7.81, p < 0.001). The specific features of patient-centered PC associated with better SRH differed by country. The perception that PC providers solve most health problems was associated with excellent or very good SRH in Colombia (aPR 1.38, 95% CI 1.01-1.91, p = 0.046) and Jamaica (aPR 1.21, 95% CI 1.02-1.43, p = 0.030). Having a provider who knows relevant medical history was positively associated with better SRH in Mexico (aPR 1.47, 95% CI 1.03-2.12, p = 0.036) but was negatively associated with better SRH in Brazil (aPR 0.71, 95% CI 0.56-0.89, p = 0.003). Finally, easy contact with PC facility (Mexico: aPR 1.35, 95% CI 1.04-1.74, p = 0.023), coordination of care (Mexico: aPR 1.53, 95% CI 1.19-1.98, p = 0.001), and opportunity to ask questions (Brazil: aPR 1.42, 95% CI 1.11-1.83, p = 0.006) were each associated with better SRH. The main study limitation consists in the analysis being of cross-sectional data, which does not allow making causal inferences or identifying the direction of the association between the variables. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, a higher OPCE score was associated with better SRH in these 6 Latin American and Caribbean countries; associations between specific characteristics of patient-centered PC and SRH differed by country. The findings underscore the importance of high-quality, patient-centered PC as a path to improved population health.
Introduction: Commission on Global Surgery proposed the perioperative mortality rate (POMR) as one of the six key indicators of the strength of a country's surgical system. Despite its widespread use in high-income settings, few studies have described procedure-specific POMR across low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). We aimed to estimate POMR across a wide range of surgical procedures in LMICs. We also describe how POMR is defined and reported in the LMIC literature to provide recommendations for future monitoring in resource-constrained settings. Methods: We did a systematic review of studies from LMICs published from 2009 to 2014 reporting POMR for any surgical procedure. We extracted select variables in duplicate from each included study and pooled estimates of POMR by type of procedure using random-effects meta-analysis of proportions and the Freeman-Tukey double arcsine transformation to stabilise variances. Results: We included 985 studies conducted across 83 LMICs, covering 191 types of surgical procedures performed on 1 020 869 patients. Pooled POMR ranged from less than 0.1% for appendectomy, cholecystectomy and caesarean delivery to 20%-27% for typhoid intestinal perforation, intracranial haemorrhage and operative head injury. We found no consistent associations between procedure-specific POMR and Human Development Index (HDI) or income-group apart from emergency peripartum hysterectomy POMR, which appeared higher in low-income countries. Inpatient mortality was the most commonly used definition, though only 46.2% of studies explicitly defined the time frame during which deaths accrued. Conclusions: Efforts to improve access to surgical care in LMICs should be accompanied by investment in improving the quality and safety of care. To improve the usefulness of POMR as a safety benchmark, standard reporting items should be included with any POMR estimate. Choosing a basket of procedures for which POMR is tracked may offer institutions and countries the standardisation required to meaningfully compare surgical outcomes across contexts and improve population health outcomes.