The path of patient Loyalty and the role of doctor reputation
Patient loyalty to doctors is relevant to medical services in which doctor-patient relationships are central and for which competition has increased in recent years. This study aims at understanding the process whereby patients develop loyalty to their doctor and doctor reputation has a moderating role. Based on a randomization of subjects, the study offers and tests an explanation chain representing key variables determining patient loyalty: patient commitment, trust and satisfaction, and doctor reputation. Primary data was collected using a structured questionnaire from a quota sample of regular patients in a large city in South America. The patients most committed to their doctor are more loyal to them. In turn, commitment is determined by patient trust, which is determined by patient satisfaction. Doctor reputation positively influences both patient trust and satisfaction. The explanation chain not only gives an account of how patient loyalty is formed; it also identifies a path health professionals can follow to secure patient loyalty.