Health Care Analysis 17 (1):20-35 (2008)

In the Netherlands, current policy opinion emphasizes demand-driven health care. Central to this model is the view, advocated by some Dutch health policy makers, that patients should be encouraged to be aware of and make use of health quality and health outcomes information in making personal health care provider choices. The success of the new health care system in the Netherlands is premised on this being the case. After a literature review and description of the new Dutch health care system, the adequacy of this demand-driven health policy is tested. The data from a July 2005, self-administered questionnaire survey of 409 patients (response rate of 94%) as to how they choose a hospital are presented. Results indicate that most patients did not choose by actively employing available quality and outcome information. They were, rather, referred by their general practitioner. Hospital choice is highly related to the importance a patient attaches to his or her physician’s opinion about a hospital. Some patients indicated that their hospital choice was affected by the reputation of the hospital, by the distance they lived from the hospital, etc. but physician’s advice was, by far, the most important factor. Policy consequences are important; the assumptions underlying the demand-driven model of patient health provider choice are inadequate to explain the pattern of observed responses. An alternative, more adequate model is required, one that takes into account the patient’s confidence in physician referral and advice
Keywords Demand-driven care  Health policy  Hospital choice  Survey
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Reprint years 2009
DOI 10.1007/s10728-008-0093-9
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