The effect of a mystery shopper scheme on prescriptions in primary care
HERO WP 2018/1: Roland Cheo, Ge Ge, Geir Godager, Rugang Liu, Qiqi Wang, Jian Wang
Health care systems in many countries are still characterized by limited availability of provider performance data which can be used to design and implement welfare improving reforms in the health sector. We question whether a simple mystery shopper scheme can be an effective measure to improve primary care quality in such settings. Using a randomized treatment-control design, we conduct a field experiment in primary care clinics in a Chinese city. We investigate whether informing clinics in the treatment group of a forthcoming mystery shopper audit influences the physicians’ prescribing behavior. As expected, we find that antibiotic medications are prescribed to patients in the majority of cases, even though such prescribing is not in accordance with current recommendations or guidelines. While the intervention did not cause significant reduction in antibiotic prescriptions, our results show that a mystery shopper scheme reduces overall unnecessary prescribing.
JEL-Classification: C93, I11, I18, L15, M14
Keywords: Field Experiment, Analysis of Health Care Markets, Government Policy, Information and Product Quality, Social Responsibility.