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Consumerism arises when patients acquire and use medical information from sources other than their physicians. This practice has been hailed as a means of improving quality. This need not be the result. Our theoretical model identifies a channel through which consumerism may reduce quality: consumerist patients place additional demands on their doctors’ time, thus imposing a negative externality on other patients. Relative to a world in which consumerism does not exist, consumerism may harm other consumerists, non-consumerists, or both. Data from a large national survey of physicians confirm the negative effects of consumerism: high levels of consumerist patients are associated with lower perceived quality among physicians.


Fang, Hai, Nolan H. Miller, John Rizzo, and Richard Zeckhauser. "Demanding Customers: Consumerist Patients and Quality of Care." BE Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy 11.1 (2011).