DETERMINANTS OF CONSUMER PREFERENCES FOR HEALTH SERVICES PROVIDED BY PRIVATE HOSPITALS IN NAKURU COUNTY, KENYA
LANGAT, LYDIA CHEPKOECH
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Private healthcare system in Kenya have grown tremendously over the last two decades due to various reasons, among them lack of adequate and quality public healthcare services and introduction of user fees. This study therefore aimed at empirically examining the determinants that have influenced consumers’ choice for private health service providers in Nakuru County. In achieving this broad objective the study sought to examine the extent to which customer demographics, hospital accessibility, service quality and hospital service cost influences consumers’ preference. Descriptive survey design was adopted in the study. Structured questionnaires was be used to gather primary data from in-patients with minor ailments in these hospitals through the assistance of the staff. Study sample size was 136 in- patients, where the sampling technique which was employed on determining individual respondents was convenient sampling method after choosing the hospitals purposively. Descriptive statistics (mean, standard deviation and frequencies) and inferential statistics particularly Pearson correlation and regression were used to test the relationship between variables under study whereas research hypotheses was tested at 0.05 significant levels. Customer demographic was positively related to consumer preference although weak (r = 0.248, p < 0.05) and statistically significant, there is a relatively weak positive relationship between hospital accessibility and consumer preference (r = 0.367, p < 0.05) which is statistically significant. Service quality have a relatively weak positive relationship with consumer preference (r = 0.483, p < 0.05) but statistically significant. The results also revealed that there is a relatively weak positive relationship between hospital service cost and consumer preference (r = 0.499, p < 0.05) and statistically significant. This study concludes that patients’’ preference is determined by a complex interplay between a variety of patient and provider characteristics. Patients often attach greater importance to their own previous healthcare experiences or to doctors’ recommendations than to comparative information. Additionally, patients base their decisions not only on outcome indicators but on a variety of provider characteristics. Findings from this study should not be underestimated. It will provide important source of knowledge for managers within the healthcare institutions, as well as the service industry in general. Health Care provider must focus towards the understanding the factors that influence the choice of health services.