Document Type



Objectives This paper explores the underlying motivations and strategies of formal small and medium-sized formal private for-profit sector hospitals and clinics in urban Bangladesh and their implications for quality and access.

Methods This exploratory qualitative study was conducted in Dhaka, Sylhet and Khulna City Corporations. Data collection methods included key informant interviews (20) with government and private sector leaders, in-depth interviews (30) with clinic owners, managers and providers and exit interviews (30) with healthcare clients.

Results Profit generation is a driving force behind entry into the private healthcare business and the provision of services. However, non-financial motivations are also emphasised such as aspirations to serve the disadvantaged, personal ambition, desire for greater social status, obligations to continue family business and adverse family events.

The discussion of private sector motivations and strategies is framed using the Business Policy Model. This model is comprised of three components: products and services, and efforts to make these attractive including patient-friendly discounts and service-packages, and building ‘good’ doctor-patient relationships; the market environment, cultivated using medical brokers and referral fees to bring in fresh clientele, and receipt of pharmaceutical incentives; and finally, organisational capabilities, in this case overcoming human resource shortages by relying on medical staff from the public sector, consultant specialists, on-call and less experienced doctors in training, unqualified nursing staff and referring complicated cases to public facilities.

Conclusions In the context of low public sector capacity and growing healthcare demands in urban Bangladesh, private for-profit engagement is critical to achieving universal health coverage (UHC). Given the informality of the sector, the nascent state of healthcare financing, and a weak regulatory framework, the process of engagement must be gradual. Further research is needed to explore how engagement in UHC can be enabled while maintaining profitability. Incentives that support private sector efforts to improve quality, affordability and accountability are a first step in building this relationship.

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APA Citation

Adams, A. M., Ahmed, R., Shuvo, T. A., Yusuf, S. S., Akhter, S., & Anwar, I. (2019). Exploratory qualitative study to understand the underlying motivations and strategies of the private for-profit healthcare sector in urban Bangladesh. BMJ Open, 9(7).


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