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The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy

Editor-in-Chief: Jürges, Hendrik / Ludwig, Sandra

Ed. by Auriol , Emmanuelle / Brunner, Johann / Fleck, Robert / Friebel, Guido / Mendola, Mariapia / Requate, Till / Tsui, Kevin / Wichardt, Philipp / Zulehner, Christine

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Demanding Customers: Consumerist Patients and Quality of Care

Hai Fang1 / Nolan H. Miller2 / John Rizzo3 / Richard Zeckhauser4

1University of Colorado Denver,

2University of Illinois,

3Stony Brook University,

4Harvard University,

Citation Information: The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy. Volume 11, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 1935-1682, DOI: 10.2202/1935-1682.2966, September 2011

Publication History

Published Online:
2011-09-18

Abstract

Consumerism arises when patients acquire and use medical information from sources other than their physicians. This practice has been hailed as a means of improving quality. This need not be the result. Our theoretical model identifies a channel through which consumerism may reduce quality: consumerist patients place additional demands on their doctors’ time, thus imposing a negative externality on other patients. Relative to a world in which consumerism does not exist, consumerism may harm other consumerists, non-consumerists, or both. Data from a large national survey of physicians confirm the negative effects of consumerism: high levels of consumerist patients are associated with lower perceived quality among physicians.

Keywords: consumerism; health care quality; physician time; time allocation; time budget

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