Evolving consumers and General Practice (GP) quality of service: An alternative theory of service quality
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Within the world of health care and medical services, there is some resistance to the notion of recognising patients as consumers. Traditionally, patients seek medical assistance or health care services when ill, faithfully adhering to the doctor's advice. However, patients are increasingly sophisticated and assertive, yielding a certain power or autonomy of their own. This paper empirically investigates the evolving role of patients to consumers and beyond. Findings from an interpretive study of General Practice (GP) medicine indicate that the degree of participation and responsibility patients willingly accept varies according to how and what patients understand as their role in the doctor-patient interaction. A range of patient perspectives are identified that vary from a passive understanding of GP quality of service, through a monitoring understanding of GP quality of service, to a partnering understanding of GP quality of service. Through this alternative, interpretive approach to the study of service quality, an alternative service quality framework is thus proposed. This framework is a Hierarchy of Perspectives ranging from the least to the most comprehensive understanding of what constitutes quality of service.
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