Providers preferences towards greater patient health benefit is associated with higher quality of care

Seema Kacker, Tin Aung, Dominic Montagu, David Bishai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Standard theories of health provider behavior suggest that providers are motivated by both profit and an altruistic interest in patient health benefit. Detailed empirical data are seldom available to measure relative preferences between profit and patient health outcomes. Furthermore, it is difficult to empirically assess how these relative preferences affect quality of care. This study uses a unique dataset from rural Myanmar to assess heterogeneous preferences toward treatment efficacy relative to provider profit and the impact of these preferences on the quality of provider diagnosis and treatment. Using conjoint survey data from 187 providers, we estimated the marginal utilities of higher treatment efficacy and of higher profit, and the marginal rate of substitution between these outcomes. We also measured the quality of diagnosis and treatment for malaria among these providers using a previously validated observed patient simulation. There is substantial heterogeneity in providers’ utility from treatment efficacy versus utility from higher profits. Higher marginal utility from treatment efficacy is positively associated with the quality of treatment among providers, and higher marginal utility from profit are negatively associated with quality of diagnosis. We found no consistent effect of the ratio of marginal utility of efficacy vs marginal utility of profit on quality of care. Our findings suggest that providers vary in their preferences towards profit and treatment efficacy, with those providers that place greater weight on treatment efficacy providing higher quality of care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-294
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Health Economics and Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Altruism
  • Conjoint analysis
  • Myanmar
  • Provider preferences
  • Quality of care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy


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