Perceived reputation and other factors influence consumers' hospital choices

Research Activities, July 2012, No. 383

Satisfaction with a prior hospital admission has a large impact on future hospital choice, according to a new study. While clinical quality scores are now widely available for consumers to use when choosing a hospital, these scores actually have a small influence on the decision. Instead, it appears that perceptions related to a hospital's reputation and medical services are what counts.

Employees and their spouses at a large self-insured employer were surveyed twice by telephone a year apart. Participants were asked to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being least satisfied and 10 most satisfied) each of six hospital attributes that would influence them when choosing a hospital for a future overnight stay. These attributes were the following: overall reputation, specialty medical services offered, amenities, out-of-pocket costs, quality ratings, and if the hospital was included in their health plan's network.

The respondents perceived differences in reputation, medical services, and out-of-pocket expenses among the hospitals. However, this was not the case with amenities. Medical services and reputation had large impacts on a future hospital choice. Consumers tended to gravitate toward hospitals with better clinical quality scores even before this information became publically available. However, clinical quality scores contributed little to hospital choice compared with a hospital's reputation and medical services. Satisfaction with a prior hospital experience had a significant and positive effect on selecting a future hospital. The researchers suggest that innovative strategies are needed to point consumers to published comparative quality data on hospitals.

The study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS13680).

See "Where would you go for your next hospitalization?," by Kyoungrae Jung, Ph.D., Roger Feldman, Ph.D., and Dennis Scanlon, Ph.D., in the Journal of Health Economics 30, pp. 832-841, 2011.

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Current as of July 2012
Internet Citation: Perceived reputation and other factors influence consumers' hospital choices: Research Activities, July 2012, No. 383. July 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/jul12/0712RA8.html