Distribution strategies used by health maintenance organizations in Kenya
The desire to have good health is common to all mankind. No normal person wishes to be sick. Never the less people fall sick and because of the contemplation of possibility of ill health at one time or other, man takes cover to facilitate his health care in the event of occurrence of ill health. The main objectives of the study were to determine the distribution strategies and the factors that influence the strategies used by HMO'S in the provision of health care services. Primary data was collected by means of survey questionnaire using both closed and open-ended questions. These questionnaires were given to executive officers entrusted with making decisions on distribution strategies. The response rate was 84% and data was analyzed using descriptive statistics. The study findings showed that all firms were using various distribution strategies to reach the patients in varying extent. Most firms offered their services in all their outlets to a large extent all over the country and did not consider presence of competitor HMO as a factor in offering their services. The most used distribution strategies were, increasing the number and location of outlets and reducing waiting time while providing mobile clinic and drop and pick services were the least used strategies. On factors that influence strategies used, managerial expertise and objectives and strategies of the firm were the most influential factors while the least was competition from other HMO's. Most of the firms used one level and direct channel to reach the patient in their provision of services. From the research it can be concluded that most HMO's have appreciated the use of distribution strategies to reach target market. Most of the HMO's offered their services in all outlets and in a geographical defined area and control the services offered. The most used distribution strategies were increasing the number and location of outlets and reducing waiting time for patients. In determination of factors that influence the number of outlets for healthcare provision, managerial expertise and objectives and strategies of the company were the most important factors. It was recommended that firms should adopt appropriate distribution strategies so that the services reach the patients in the right time and place. Proper legislation should be put in place by the government in the healthcare provision industry. The study-focused mainly on distribution strategies used by HMO's, it was suggested that other marketing mix variables also be studied. The study could also be replicated in other industries or sectors in Kenya.