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The Competition Commission shows how to attract private patients

In 2013, the Competition Commission investigation into the private healthcare sector published its initial findings; it will mean change in the private healthcare sector that will affect consultants, GPs and their private practices.

But what can private consultants learn from the Competition Commission investigation? What does it say about the relationship between patients, consultants and private hospitals?

The Competition Commission invested heavily in research to understand how the private healthcare market works. They interviewed and surveyed large samples of patients, GPs and consultants. The detailed analyses and reports are available online. But you don’t need to wade through them. At Private Healthcare UK, we have dug deep into the published documents to provide you with some insight into current trends in the private patient market.

The private patient referral process

The research highlighted the following:

  • 60% of patients who saw a consultant privately were referred by a GP.
  • 18% were referred by another consultant or health professional.
  • 12% went direct without a GP referral.
  • Only 2% were referred by their health insurer.
  • Self-pay patients were far more likely to have seen a consultant without any referral.

The GP referral

Looking at GP referral to private consultants, the research found that:

  • One in five private patients who saw a consultant and were referred by a GP said that the GP suggested more than one private consultant to them.
  • 40% of private patients who had been referred to a consultant already knew or had a good idea of which consultant they wanted to see prior to being referred.
  • Self-pay private hospital patients were more likely to already know which consultant they wanted to see.
  • 55% of GPs said they typically suggest two or more private consultants to their patients.

Seeking information about consultants

Where do patients go for information about the choice of private consultants and private hospitals? Here’s what the research says:

  • 47% of private patients looked up consultant and hospital information online.
  • For private patients in London, 63% looked up information online.
  • And for self-pay patients, 63% looked up information online.

And what did they look for?

The most important factor was information about the consultant’s reputation, expertise and specialism. The clinical expertise of the consultant was twice as important as the clinical quality of the hospital.

What does this tell us?

It’s clear that the traditional route of GP referral direct to the preferred consultant is becoming less of a “safe bet” in attracting private patients. More patients, particularly those in the growing self-pay sector, are making their own choice of consultant based on a GP’s “short list”. More patients are going direct to consultants without a GP referral. And the prime source of information is online.

UK Consultant? Enhance your online presence through Private Healthcare UK

To ensure that you are the “chosen one”, when patients are researching consultants online, we offer the following:

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Invest in a Silver profile on Private Healthcare UK and save 33% in January. For just £200 (plus VAT), your practice can “stand out from the crowd” through our entry level Silver Service.

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Enquire about one of our GREAT VALUE GOLD PACKAGES.  Let our content team create articles and patient stories that build your reputation in serving the needs of the private patient. Publish news and videos and take advantage of the patient enquiry and appointment booking service.

A bespoke solution

We’ll help you to attract and engage with your patients and referrers through creative content and professional communication that can be delivered online, in print, on mobile, through video...whatever medium is the best suited and the most cost effective.

Want to know more?

Call 01442 817817 or email sales@privatehealth.co.uk to find out how we can help to build your private practice in 2014.

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About the author

Keith Pollard is Executive chairman of LaingBuisson International Limited, an online publisher in the healthcare sector that operates market-leading web portals such as Private Healthcare UK and HarleyStreet.com. LaingBuisson International Limited is also active in the online medical travel sector through Treatment Abroad, International Medical Travel Journal and DoctorInternet, the Arabic medical tourism portal. View www.keithpollard.com for my full profile.


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