Hungarians Loyal to Their Doctors, Prepared to pay for Better Care


Gergely Radnóczi

Price and geographical proximity are not the only factors that determine the choice of a doctor or clinic, according to a joint survey by doctor search platform Dokio and GKI Digital.

The research says that it is at least as important for Hungarian patients to find a doctor they already know or who has a good reputation. Almost one-third of new private healthcare users are looking for a specific doctor, while many decide based on recommendations from friends or professionals.

The research found that patients’ loyalty to their own doctor is particularly strong in Hungary, with many patients willing to spend money and time to see a better-quality specialist. The survey polled around 4,000 people about the criteria they use to choose which clinic or doctor they go to for treatment or examinations when they use healthcare services.

In the case of a health problem, the location of their existing doctor’s office was the main criterion, while 33% of respondents highlighted the importance of personally knowing the doctor from earlier treatment (respondents could indicate more than one criterion in the relevant question). Some 30% of respondents said they chose a doctor on the recommendation of a friend or family member.

In response to another question, 58% of respondents (who had already used private healthcare) said they were loyal to their doctor; 33% said they were loyal to certain doctors and providers only but would be willing to try a new specialist in some cases. In contrast, only 5% said they always go to the doctor who gives them the earliest or cheapest appointment.

“The responses show that a large proportion of patients who use private healthcare are willing to spend more money and time to get more reliable care,” says Gergely Radnóczi, co-founder of the online health platform Dokio.

Of respondents who have used private healthcare in the past year, 72% spent between HUF 10,000-100,000 on such services, while 16% spent more than HUF 150,000 on private care.

About 74% of those who said they were loyal to their doctor said that the reason for sticking to an established specialist was satisfaction with the doctor’s work, while 43% of respondents said that the personality and character of the doctor were the most significant factors.

In the survey, Dokio and GKI Digital also asked people looking for a new private healthcare provider about the critical factors in picking the right specialist or clinic. Approximately 38% said it depends on the problem at hand whether they choose a specific doctor or just a clinic, while 29% specifically searched for a doctor.

When asked what they rely on to choose a private doctor, most respondents (51%) preferred recommendations from a friend or family member, and many followed the advice of another doctor (29%) or decided based on the reputation of the specialist (27%).

Only 5% of patients choose a doctor using an online doctor search service. Radnóczi pointed out, however, that doctor search platforms such as Dokio are particularly suitable for searching for doctors on the basis of professional recognition, as they also provide access to professional biographies.

“The results also suggest that although e-health, telemedicine and similar less personalized procedures are becoming more common in healthcare, the doctor-patient trust relationship remains inescapable,” he notes.

“Meanwhile, competition in the private healthcare market is also intensifying, with clinics gaining an advantage if they focus more on the professional personality of their doctors. Our survey shows that proximity or price is not the main criterion for patients choosing a doctor, but they prefer to go to someone they can trust. Private clinics need to communicate this,” he concludes.

GVH Fines Local Brightwhite Distributors

Hungary’s Competition Office (GVH) said it fined four local Brightwhite distributors a combined HUF 22 million for continuing to advertise products touted as teeth whitening agents despite a ban, according to [My Business]. GVH noted that it launched a procedure against the distributors late in 2020 because they continued to advertise Brightwhite products despite a ban by the National Public Health Center (NNK). NNK earlier established that, because of a lack of documentation, the products could contain prohibited ingredients, presenting a public health risk.

Semmelweis Uni, ITM, Novartis Sign Cooperation Deal

Hungary’s top medical school, Semmelweis University, the Ministry for Innovation and Technology (ITM) and Novartis Hungária have signed a cooperation agreement to promote innovation in the country’s public healthcare sector, according to state news agency MTI. The agreement was signed by State Secretary László György on behalf of ITN, university rector Béla Merkely, and Matt Zeller, managing director of Novartis Hungária. As a first “pillar” of the agreement, the signatories want to increase access to clinical research at the university and the role of technological and digital innovations in clinical research. In the second pillar, the signatories aim to ensure Hungary’s leading role in cell and gene therapies. As one of Europe’s top gene therapy centers, the university is helping to launch a national pilot program for neonatal screening of spinal muscular atrophy. In addition, screening for hereditary retinal diseases is being extended in ophthalmology. The third pillar of the cooperation is a cardiovascular public health program affecting 50,000 people, using innovative data analysis and artificial intelligence solutions.

Richter Lays Cornerstone of new Office Building

Hungarian pharmaceutical company Gedeon Richter laid the cornerstone of a HUF 15 billion office building in Budapest in March, according to a release on the website of the Budapest Stock Exchange. The 17,400 sqm building will be completed by the end of 2023. Richter CEO Gábor Orbán said the latest expansion of Richter’s base in the capital shows the values of the company’s founder, born 150 years ago, have withstood the test of time. He said spaces that “encourage innovative cooperation” were a priority in the design of the building. He added that sustainability was also a factor, noting the use of recycled materials and geothermal temperature regulation. The six-story building will have space for 420 office workers, a conference room for 120, and a 74-spot underground car park. Minister of Finance Mihály Varga said Richter is “among the biggest and most innovative companies” in Central Europe. He noted that investments had boosted pharmaceutical companies’ share of Hungary’s exports of goods to more than 5%. Richter chairman Erik Bogsch said it was cheaper to build the new office than to renovate the existing base in District X.

Construction of Caola’s HUF 3.8 bln Factory Begins

Hungarian cosmetics and cleaning products company Caola has laid the cornerstone of a HUF 3.8 billion factory in Martonvásár (30 km southwest of Budapest), according to Grant money earmarked to boost Hungary’s self-sufficiency in the production of healthcare supplies covered HUF 2 bln of the project’s costs. CEO Imre Bandi said the new plant would be completed by the end of the year. He added that the firm had upgraded its range of disinfectants and cleaners in the past two years in response to the pandemic. The new plant will operate with a staff of 21. Caola had net sales revenue of HUF 1.1 bln in 2020, according to public records.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of April 8, 2022.

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