When I look back to see which of the ways I have contributed to healthcare stands out, the answer may surprise you. It is true I was a co-founder and the first chairman of the doctors’ union (KMPDU). I participated in the development of the patient charter and the Health act 2017 amongst many initiatives. I also pushed for and was one of the key players in the “Musyimi” task-force report on strengthening healthcare delivery in the public sector.  I became the Medical Director of a leading private hospital before the age of 40. However, of these achievements, the one that I single out is the GIERAFS model.

Patients seek two things from health workers: healing and a sense of being heard and cared for. Patients want to attain cure and recover from their illnesses. However, they also want to be treated with respect and feel that they have been listened to. In fact, a quack with tremendous patience, humility, attention and an overdose of “compassion” is likely to get better reviews than a haughty doctor.

Client experience is an area of focus in private institutions. However, even here it remains a struggle. In our public facilities, there are those health workers who try to extend a positive experience, but their efforts are often drowned by an unsupportive, broken system or a majority who, for one reason or the other, do not try anymore.

My opinion is that, regardless of the background of the client before you: rich or poor, public or private, famous or not, paying or not, we as health workers must treat them with respect and pay attention to how we make them feel.

Enter the  GIERAFS model. I developed this model in 2016 in pursuit of a simple, easy to remember, easy to apply, yet effective model to guide the interaction between all health care workers and their clients.

GIERAFS is a mnemonic detailing the basic components, in sequential order, of an interaction between a healthcare worker and his/her patient:

G – Greet the patient

I – Introduce Yourself

E – Explain what you would like to do

R – Request the patient’s permission to proceed

A – Ask whether they have questions and Answer any questions they may have

F- Feedback to the client on your findings and plan

S- Smile. It helps. 🙂

The intention is that overall, the experience clients have in the hands of hospital staff would be much better thereby helping to build confidence in the care given. I have learnt that these simple things matter a lot and mean the world to a good many patients.

Please try it out and let me know how it works for you in the comments section below.

Dr. Victor Ng’ani