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Does quality affect patients’ choice of doctor? Evidence from the UK

Rita Santos (), Hugh Gravelle () and Carol Propper

Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers from HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York

Abstract: Provider competition is a currently popular healthcare reform model. A necessary condition for greater competition to improve quality is that providers will face higher demand if they improve their quality. In this paper we test this crucial assumption in an important part of the health care market by examining whether quality affects the choice of family doctor. We use data on the choices made by 3.4 million English patients from amongst nearly 1000 family doctor practices to estimate the determinants of choice and, in particular, whether quality affects choice. The English setting is a particularly useful test bed since all individuals are entitled to register with a family physician and generally cannot access non-emergency hospital care without doing so. All care is free, so choice of family doctor is not affected by price. Moreover, measures of clinicalquality are publicly available. We find that patients do respond to quality and are willing to travel further to higher quality practices. Our estimates suggest that a one standard deviation increase in the publicly available measure of quality would increase the number of patients a practice would attract by around 15% of the practice patient list.

Keywords: quality; demand; healthcare; choice; competition; family practice (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I11 I18 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-eur and nep-hea
Date: 2014-08
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Working Paper: Does quality affect patients’ choice of doctor? Evidence from the UK (2013) Downloads
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