Demanding customers: Consumerist patients and quality of care

Hai Fang, Nolan H. Miller, John Rizzo, Richard Zeckhauser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Consumerism arises when patients acquire and use medical information from sources other than their physicians. This practice has been hailed as a means of improving quality. This need not be the result. Our theoretical model identifies a channel through which consumerism may reduce quality: consumerist patients place additional demands on their doctors' time, thus imposing a negative externality on other patients. Relative to a world in which consumerism does not exist, consumerism may harm other consumerists, non-consumerists, or both. Data from a large national survey of physicians confirm the negative effects of consumerism: high levels of consumerist patients are associated with lower perceived quality among physicians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number59
JournalB.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011


  • consumerism
  • health care quality
  • physician time
  • time allocation
  • time budget

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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