Hospitals have grown increasingly more competitive with their advertisements. Some advertising the latest technologies, others advertising their many accolades and awards relative to pediatrics or cardiology. “Come see us, we have the very best in hip and joint replacement surgery.” It”s no longer about which hospital is closer, but rather which hospital got their message across the best.
Paul Ginsburg, who runs the Center for Studying Health System Change, believes its really just about hospitals making sure they are capitalizing on the insurance dollars. “How much insurance companies are willing to pay a hospital depends on how much their enrollees, or their enrollee’s employers, want that hospital to be in their network.”
Richard Donze, a doctor at Chester County, thinks, “It’s not just to get your attention if you happen to need a joint replaced right now. It’s to put in your mind that this would be the hospital to go to when and if you do need it. They’ve got their awards listed up there, we’ve got similar awards for hip replacement, knee replacement — we have the same things.”
All these advertisements, at heart, really only add up to one real message. And that”s the Promise of Survival. Come to our hospital, we can keep you alive. But if all the hospitals are saying this same thing, who do you believe? Ginsburg says, “If there are no solid data that consumers trust that can really tell hospitals apart, well then, Madison Avenue will take over.” Call in the ad men.
Survival stats aren”t the only tactic being used. Hospitals all over the country have taken to billboard advertising in a variety of ways. Some hospitals just wish wellness to passerby’s. “Drive safe.” Others promise drivers a short wait time in the emergency room. It”s a way of saying, “Hey, we know the annoyances of hospitals. We”ve heard you, and we are doing better.” They are fighting that DMV — long waits, rude people — mentality of hospitals.
Shouldn”t this be how hospitals operate anyhow? Is competition going to demand better service, shorter wait times, more comfortable stays?
What about hospital gowns. Can you believe they still use disposable paper gowns that tie at the back and come undone at the most inopportune times. In this day in age? Not for long. Hospitals are gearing up to finally make the shift to washable, more comfortable gowns and robes. What-To-Expect books have been pitching this idea to women for years. Bring your own robe to make your post op stay more comfortable.
Quality stay and comfort seem like logical next steps. Pretty soon a billboard advertisement for a hospital will look more like an advertisement for a four star resort with lavish luxury robes, turn down service and continental breakfast.
Besides the comfort benefits of switching to new robes, one could make a case for the global benefit. No more waste. Some nurses offer patients two robes, one goes on straight ways and the other in reverse to prevent any accidental malfunctions. That”s two disposable robes per patient.
Practice Greenhealth estimates hospitals generate 28 pounds of medical waste per staff bed. Legacy estimates producing between 1.5 and 1.6 million pounds of medical waste between mid-2008 to mid-2009. Imagine a hospital being able to boast how much waste their preventing.
The question is do we care that advertising is affecting the quality of our hospital care? Is it wrong that the only reason patient considerations and outside the box thinking are employed is when two hospitals are competing with each other. At the same time, a nice luxury robe would be nice and might make this writer think twice about which hospital to head to in an emergency.