Skip to main content

Do Patients Prefer Medical Facilities Owned Privately, by a Non-Profit, or by the Government?

Turns out, most healthcare consumers don’t have a preference
Stephen Heitz, Chief Innovation Officer | Tim Trull, Managing Director, Strategy

You might be tempted to run ads touting whether your healthcare facility is owned privately, by a non-profit or by the government.

It turns out, with one rare exception, that ownership-related marketing messages do not drive consumers to choose one medical facility over another.

LAVIDGE conducted a national consumer healthcare study in early 2020, with an amended survey in May 2020. The objective was to learn attitudes of healthcare consumers and define segments that share those attitudes—pre-pandemic and during the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak.

  • The study uncovered four key healthcare consumer segments:
  • Team Players - like and trust their doctors and are confident in the healthcare system.
  • Bystanders - are intimated by the healthcare system and healthcare providers.
  • Crusaders - feel that everyone should have equal access to quality healthcare.
  • Boss - conducts their own healthcare research and challenges their doctors.

This is the fourth in a series of articles in which we reveal several “Light-Bulb Moments” our research uncovered.

Healthcare consumer research reveals that ownership-related marketing messages do not drive consumers to choose one medical facility over another.

Light-Bulb Moment 4: Facility ownership is not a driving choice for healthcare consumers

We know it matters to you. And it certainly matters to your investors and creditors. But when you’re recruiting or retaining patients, put away your prospectus, annual or quarterly profit-loss statement, and details regarding your status as a corporation, non-profit or government organization.

Facility ownership is not a driving choice for healthcare consumers.After all, various ownership types offer distinct benefits which set them apart from the competition.

  • It might seem that a non-profit organization would be seen more favorably in a world obsessed with labeling big businesses as focusing on profits over people.
  • On the other hand, consumers might infer that a private facility has more resources, translating into greater access to state-of-the-art care and equipment.
  • And a government-owned facility might be seen as the most affordable or even the most likely to be in compliance with industry codes and regulations.

A strong 44% of respondents have no preference whatsoever regarding such matters, and your ownership status is unlikely to influence their decision on where to seek treatment.

The exceptions?

Only 18% of respondents overall hold this attitude. Bystander respondents are the most likely to see this as the most important factor.

Those who do have such a preference tend to prefer privately owned facilities overall. And for them, bear in mind that it is a really big deal.

At 64%, Crusader respondents are far more likely to support non-profit medical facilities with only 44% stating a preference for privately owned facilities. At 26%, members of this attitudinal segment are more likely than other segments to prefer facilities owned or operated by a government entity.

Healthcare consumers care about what’s in it for them

We’ve established that most patients aren’t concerned with what form you use to pay your taxes or who handles the payroll when it comes to choosing a healthcare facility.

So, what factors DO drive consumer choice among providers?

Our research further revealed that for more than 60% of Team Player, Crusader and Boss respondents, who provided the care was more important than the type of facility in which consumers received treatment. These three segments say they prefer to see their primary care or family physician for non-emergency needs.

Only 26% of Bystanders say they agree. Members of this group, which is less trusting of the healthcare system overall, would rather visit a local hospital, clinic or emergency room. Some even prefer to seek help at the home of a family member or friend.

Your audience might need to include other doctors

Using tactics which reach out to the ultimate end-user, of course, always makes sense. When it comes to marketing your medical facility, however, you’d be wise to include physicians among your target audiences.

That’s because your potential patients place high importance on their doctor’s opinion.

In comparison, respondents cited physician referrals highest among the following factors which influence facility choice:

Need fresh thinking? Help is a few keystrokes away.