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How do patients choose their doctors for primary care in a free market?

Wun, Yuk Tsan; Lam, Tai Pong; Lam, Kwok Fai; Goldberg, David; Li, Donald K T; Yip, Ka Chee.
J Eval Clin Pract; 16(6): 1215-20, 2010 Dec.
Artículo en Inglés | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-20695952

AIMS:

A recent trend in health care system is to provide more choices to the patients. This study surveyed the general public's choices for primary care in Hong Kong which has the setting of free choices for private or public service and also direct access to specialists.

METHODS:

We used a combined qualitative and quantitative approach. We held five focus group interviews with participants of different socio-economic categories. Information from the focus groups helped to design a questionnaire for random telephone interviews with members of the public aged 18 or above.

RESULTS:

There were 37 participants in the focus groups and 1647 respondents in the telephone survey. The most important factor for choosing a doctor was proximity to home or workplace, followed by quick relief from the illness. Once continuity of care had been established, distance was of less importance but comprehensive care was valued. Nearly 70% of the public had regular doctors. About 93% of the public would consult specialists directly when they thought they needed a specialist's opinion. Nearly 30% chose specialists for any medical care and 38% preferred specialists to also look after their primary care problems.

CONCLUSION:

Convenient accessibility was the most important factor for the initial choice of primary care doctors by the general public. The perceived clinical proficiency of the doctor determined future continuity of care. Patients liked to have direct access to specialists. Though some chose to see the specialists even for primary care problems, most people had regular doctors who were likely to have the attributes of family doctors.
Selo DaSilva