Special Session Summary Professional Healthcare Services


Lorraine Sheppard (1996) ,"Special Session Summary Professional Healthcare Services", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 2, eds. Russel Belk and Ronald Groves, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 89.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 2, 1996      Page 89



Lorraine Sheppard, University of South Australia

Whilst professional services marketing is gaining popularity, healthcare behaviour is an area of consumer behaviour that has received surprisingly little attention by marketing scholars. Moorman and Matulich’s (1993) extensive literature search across disciplines revealed only one comprehensive consumer research study that dealt with healthcare behaviour (Zaltman and Versinsky 1971). The unique nature and funding of professional healthcare services suggest that consumer behaviour for these services deserves some individual attention. By exploring the doctor-patient/client relationship, the following three papers demonstrate the distinguishing features of healthcare services and highlight the challenges professional healthcare providers face in delivering their services. Lorraine Shepard’s paper examines the interaction between providers, funders and consumers of healthcare. Robyn Ouschan’s paper investigates the role of negotiation in the doctor-patient relationship. Finally, Lesley White’s paper explores the influence patients have in the healthcare service delivery process.



Lorraine Sheppard, University of South Australia

In most businesses customers purchase goods and services from the producers and together these players are the primary beneficiaries of the exchanges. For health services the purchaser is the client and the hospital or health insurance agency. Therefore in the health care system patients receive the services, third party payers finance the exchange and a variety of service providers receive payments for the exchange. Therefore there are three equally important customers in the system each with different priorities and expectations (Harris and McDaniel 1993).

The three customers are the client, purchaser and provider each with different priorities and expectations and each negotiating for their own satisfaction. Therefore client satisfaction must be balanced against the concerns of the other customers (Lengnick-Hall 1995).

Considerable market research has been undertaken in various settings on customer satisfaction. However in health care little research has been undertaken as to the service quality dimensions in this triadic relationship. This paper will explore some of these issues.



Robyn Ouschan, University of Western Australia

The increased number of malpractice claims has been attributed to te crosion of the doctor-patient relationship (Rice 1991). Given that an increasing number of patients are expressing their dissatisfaction with the service provided by their doctor indicates that patients are seeking to take some control over the professional healthcare service delivery process. An asymmetrically relationship between the doctor and the patient has been justified by the doctor’s expertise and the patient’s lack of it. However, regardless of the limited level understanding, patient’s formulate their own perceptions of disease and illness that need to be explored thoroughly and taken into account by the physician (Bothelo 1992, Freeling 1984). Patient’s perceived level of control and empowerment have been found to influence patient’s healthcare involvement and behaviour (Roth 1994). Furthermore, Speelding and Ros (1985) proposed that making patients active participants can enhance therapeutic outcomes. Negotiation between doctors and patients cultivates a mutual decision making climate and consequently plays an important role in establishing a harmonious doctor-patient relationship.

Whilst numerous scholars have endorsed a negotiated approach to establish the doctor-patient relationship, limited progress has been made in terms of theory development and empirical research (Stoeckle 1995, Bothelo 1992, Lazare 1987). Thus, the objectives of this paper are to explore and identify:

i) the dimensions of a negotiated doctor (general practitioner)-patient relationship

ii) the factors that encourage/discourage negotiation between doctors and patients

iii) the impact of negotiated approach on perceived patient empowerment, satisfaction, commitment and loyalty.



Lesley White, University of Wollongong

Services Marketing stresses the role of the consumer in the delivery of a service. The service characteristics of intangibility and inseparability mean that the consumer’s part in the delivery of a service is of major importance in determining the quality of the final service. The relationship between the professional service provider and the client is an interesting one which usually involves an inequality of specialist knowledge and also often of education, socio-economic status and perceived power. It remains however a buyer/seller relationship with the implications of customer needs and their fulfilment. The client may be included in the professional service provider’s decision making process to a varying degree; from no involvement at all to extensive negotiation and involvement.

The objective of this paper is to contribute to the understanding of the decision making process within the professional service provider/client relationship. Although the role of the customer is acknowledged to be of importance in professional services marketing a gap exists in the literature regarding the relative influence of the client and the professional service provider in decision making. This paper develops a conceptual model of the relative influences in purchase decision making within a professional service provider/client relationship. The professional service provider chosen as the subject of this research is the general practitioner (GP and the prescribing decision is the example of the decision making process.



Lorraine Sheppard, University of South Australia


AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 2 | 1996

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