Why do patients bypass the nearest hospital? An empirical analysis for orthopaedic care and neurosurgery in the Netherlands

Eur J Health Econ. 2007 Sep;8(3):287-95. doi: 10.1007/s10198-006-0035-0. Epub 2007 Jan 26.


Using data for 2003, we find that both for non-emergency orthopaedic care (38%) and neurosurgery (54%) numerous Dutch patients did not visit the nearest hospital. Our estimation results show that extra travel time negatively influences the probability of hospital bypassing. Good waiting time performance by the nearest hospital also significantly decreases the likelihood of a bypass decision. Patients seem to place a lower negative value on extra travel time for orthopaedic care than for neurosurgery. The valuation of shorter waiting time also varies between these two types of hospital care. A good performance of the nearest hospital on waiting time decreases the likelihood of a bypass decision most for neurosurgery. In both samples, patients are more likely to bypass the nearest hospital when it is a university medical centre or a tertiary teaching hospital. Patient attributes, such as age and social status, are also found to significantly affect hospital bypassing. From our analysis it follows that both patient and hospital care heterogeneity should be taken into account when assessing the substitutability of hospitals.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Economic Competition
  • Empirical Research
  • Family Practice
  • Female
  • Geography
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals / standards
  • Hospitals / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals / supply & distribution
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical
  • Netherlands
  • Neurosurgery / statistics & numerical data*
  • Orthopedics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Admission / statistics & numerical data
  • Time Factors
  • Transportation
  • Waiting Lists