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Social Interaction in Patients'�Hospital Choice: Evidences from Italy

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Keywords
  • I11 - Analysis Of Health Care Markets
  • H00 - General
  • C21 - Cross-Sectional Models
  • Spatial Models
  • Treatment Effect Models
  • Quantile Regressions

Abstract

In this paper we study the influence of social interaction on patients' hospital choice and its relationship with quality delivered by hospitals, using Italian data. We explore the impact on individual choices of a set of variables such as travel distance, individual- and hospital-specific characteristics, as well as a variable capturing the effect of the neighbourhood. The richness of our data allows us to disentangle contextual effects from the influence of information sharing on patients' hospital choices. We then use this framework to assess how such interaction is related to clinical hospital quality. Results show that network effect plays an important role in hospital choices, although it is less relevant for larger hospitals. Another empirical finding is the existence of a negative relationship between the degree of interaction among individuals and the quality delivered by hospitals. The absence of a source of information on the quality of hospitals accessible to all individuals, such as guidelines or star ratings, exacerbates the importance of information gathered locally in hospital choices, which may result in a lower degree of competition among hospitals and lower quality.

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