A Theory of Waiting Time Reporting and Quality Signaling

Yijuan Chen*, Juergen Meinecke, Peter Sivey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We develop a theoretical model to study a policy that publicly reports hospital waiting times. We characterize two effects of such a policy: the ‘competition effect’ that drives hospitals to compete for patients by increasing service rates and reducing waiting times and the ‘signaling effect’ that allows patients to distinguish a high-quality hospital from a low-quality one. While for a low-quality hospital both effects help reduce waiting time, for a high-quality hospital, they act in opposite directions. We show that the competition effect will outweigh the signaling effect for the high-quality hospital, and consequently, both hospitals' waiting times will be reduced by the introduction of the policy. This result holds in a policy environment where maximum waiting time targets are not binding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1355-1371
Number of pages17
JournalHealth Economics (United Kingdom)
Issue number11
Early online date10 Aug 2015
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Aug 2015


  • quality signaling
  • report cards
  • waiting times

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