Choosing between hospitals: the influence of the experiences of other patients.

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Choosing between hospitals: the influence of the experiences of other patients.

Med Decis Making. 2012 Nov-Dec;32(6):764-78

Authors: de Groot IB, Otten W, Dijs-Elsinga J, Smeets HJ, Kievit J, Marang-van de Mheen PJ, CHOICE-2 Study Group

OBJECTIVE: Publicly available information on hospital performance is increasing, with the aim to support consumers when choosing a hospital. Besides general hospital information and information on outcomes of care, there is increasing availability of systematically collected information on experiences of other patients. The aim of this study was to assess the influence of previous patients' experiences relative to other information when choosing a hospital for surgical treatment.
METHODS: Three hundred thirty-seven patient volunteers and 280 healthy volunteers (response rate of 52.4% and 93.3%, respectively) filled out an Internet-based questionnaire that included an adaptive choice-based conjoint analysis. They were asked to select hospital characteristics they would use for future hospital choice, compare hospitals, and choose the overall best hospital. Based on the respondents' choices, the relative importance (RI) of each hospital characteristic for each respondent was estimated using hierarchical Bayes estimation.
RESULTS: Information based on previous patients' experience was considered at least as important as information provided by hospitals. "Report card regarding physician's expertise" had the highest RI (16.83 [15.37-18.30]) followed by "waiting time for outpatient clinic appointment" (14.88 [13.42-16.34]) and "waiting time for surgery" (7.95 [7.12-8.78]). Patient and healthy volunteers considered the same hospital attributes to be important, except that patient volunteers assigned greater importance to "positive judgment about physician communication" (7.65 v. 5.80, P < 0.05) and lower importance to "complications" (2.56 v. 4.22, P < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: Consumers consider patient experience-based information at least as important as hospital-based information. They rely most on information regarding physicians' expertise, waiting time, and physicians' communication when choosing a hospital.

PMID: 22546750 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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