Importance of Amenities?
This is a recent article (per usual, an excerpt and then a link) from the NEJM about the importance of amenities in hospital care. Does it matter that the hospital lobby looks like a five star hotel? Does it matter that the sheets have a high thread count and the bathroom boasts a flat screen television?
Many hospitals, including MGH and BWH in Boston, have long had exclusive, fancy floors for patients who were willing and able to pay the extra fee. The area at MGH, the Phillips House, was described to me by the Director of Social Work more than three decades ago when I was a social work intern there: "Just like Robin Hood, we rob the rich to help the poor." Presumably, the extra money was directed towards patient care or even paint for the low cost wards.
At BIDMC, there has not been a similar tradition. Our ethos has been that everyone gets equal treatment, and you can't even count on a private room, whoever you are (well, almost whoever you are), unless there is a medical necessity for that privacy.
All of this is somewhat different from the thrust of the article which describes hospitals adding all sorts of comfort details to attract patients. Personally, I would rather be in a more drab room with first class doctors and nurses, but I guess that the ideal would be to have both. Your thoughts?
The Emerging Importance of Patient Amenities in Hospital Care Dana P. Goldman, Ph.D., Mary Vaiana, Ph.D., and John A. Romley, Ph.D.
Now, yet another style of com- petition appears to be emerging, in which hospitals compete for patients directly, on the basis of amenities. Though amenities have long been relevant to hospitals' competition, they seem to have increased in importance — per- haps because patients now have more say in selecting hospitals. And the hospital market is boom- ing. National spending on hospi- tals exceeded $700 billion in 2008 and is growing rapidly.
These high and rising costs have sparked concern. Gawande recently attributed out-of-control health care spending in McAllen, Texas, to profit-driven medicine: physician ownership of a local hospital, for instance, could cre- ate a financial incentive to provide excessive care.1 To act on that in- centive, the hospital would have to draw patients somehow, and the hospital's Web site advertised its amenities, including a lobby "like that of a five-star hotel."