Research undertaken by Dr Angela Dobele, RMIT University, and Professor Adam Lindgreen, Cardiff Business School, found that mothers rely on other parents for information about healthcare providers and to feel more confident about their choices.
“Choosing healthcare for your child is a big responsibility. There is an information imbalance because, for most mothers, the healthcare provider has a lot more knowledge,” Dr Dobele said.
“This imbalance makes it difficult to decide on a course of action and to judge the quality of services received.
“Parents are reliant upon the medical professional to determine a suitable treatment. Trusted word-of-mouth recommendations can help them to finalise a decision or consider alternative possibilities.”
This study has significant implications for healthcare marketing, suggesting that the industry needs to concentrate less on selling strategies and more on reinforcing the value of service that a patient receives.
“For many organisations it is common practice to try to ‘add value’ to existing products by bundling offerings together,” Dr Dobele said.
“Our study shows that tactics like this are unlikely to work within the healthcare industry as mothers do not trust commercial marketing messages that try to sway their opinions.”
Dr Dobele explains that organisations need to focus on their commitment to patient care in order to win the recommendations of other parents.
“The medical industry is becoming increasingly competitive and medical staff are judged on characteristics like their bedside manner and interpersonal skills,” she said.
“As long as people have a choice of medical practitioners they will exercise this choice and vote with their feet.”
For interviews: Dr Angela Dobele, 0407 264 794.
For general media enquiries: Ainslie Goodall, (03) 9925 1307 or 0438 255 433.