Observational study of the clinical performance of a public-private partnership national referral hospital network in Lesotho: Do improvements last over time?

Nancy A. Scott*, Jeanette L. Kaiser, Brian W. Jack, Elizabeth L. Nkabane–Nkholongo, Allison Juntunen, Tshema Nash, Mayowa Alade, Taryn Vian

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Public-private partnerships (PPP) may increase healthcare quality but lack longitudinal evidence for success. The Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital (QMMH) in Lesotho is one of Africa’s first healthcare PPPs. We compare data from 2012 and 2018 on capacity, utilization, quality, and outcomes to understand if early documented successes have been sustained using the same measures over time. In this observational study using administrative and clinical data, we assessed beds, admissions, average length of stay (ALOS), outpatient visits, and patient outcomes. We measured triage time and crash cart stock through direct observation in 2013 and 2020. Operational hospital beds increased from 390 to 410. Admissions decreased (-5.3%) while outpatient visits increased (3.8%). ALOS increased from 5.1 to 6.5 days. Occupancy increased from 82% to 99%; half of the wards had occupancy rates ≤90%, and Neonatal ward occupancy was 209%. The proportion of crash cart stock present (82.9% to 73.8%) and timely triage (84.0% to 27.6%) decreased. While overall mortality decreased (8.0% to 6.5%) and neonatal mortality overall decreased (18.0% to 16.3%), mortality among very low birth weight neonates increased (30.2% to 36.8%). Declines in overall hospital mortality are promising. Yet, continued high occupancy could compromise infection control and impede response to infections, such as COVID-19. High occupancy in the Neonatal ward suggests that the population need for neonatal care outpaces QMMH capacity; improvements should be addressed at the hospital and systemic levels. The increase in ALOS is acceptable for a hospital meant to take the most critical cases. The decline in crash cart stock completeness and timely triage may affect access to emergency treatment. While the partnership itself ended earlier than anticipated, our evaluation suggests that generally the hospital under the PPP was operational, providing high-level, critically needed services, and continued to improve patient outcomes. Quality at QMMH remained substantially higher than at the former Queen Elizabeth II hospital.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0272568
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume17
Issue number9 September
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2022
Externally publishedYes

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