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Do patients choose hospitals that improve their health?

Posted on 13 May 2015

CHE's latest Research Paper 111 written by Nils Gutacker, Luigi Siciliani, Giuseppe Moscelli, Hugh Gravelle

RP111 cover


Patients in the English NHS can choose which hospital to attend for planned surgery. Among other things, their choice depends on the quality of care that each hospital provides. But the existing information on hospital quality is often limited and focuses only on the negative experience of patients, for example how many patients died after surgery or were readmitted for unplanned care.

Patients increasingly have access to better information on hospital quality. The NHS has recently begun to publish information on improvements in health as reported by patients themselves. In this paper we test whether hip replacement patients in England are more likely to attend a hospital that achieves larger improvements in their patients’ health. To do so, we study the choices made by NHS-funded patients treated during the period 2010 to 2012.

We find that health improvements are more important for the choice of hospital than readmission or mortality rates. However, patients’ reaction to quality information is generally limited: even for large changes in quality patients would only be willing to travel few kilometres more. But because the market for hip replacement surgery is large, individual hospitals can attract a substantial number of extra patients if they can improve their quality.

Full Report: CHE Research Paper 111 (PDF , 3,600kb)

Other papers in the CHE Research paper series can be found at: In house publications