HOSPITALS: Move To Pamper Clients As Competition Increases
Hospitals in California are offering patients "extras" that they hope will "lure customers in an increasingly competitive market," the AP/Sacramento Bee reports. However, "health care experts wonder if frills are, or should be, important." One hospital exemplifying the trend toward patient extras is St. Jude's Medical Center. Its "At Your Service Program" offers a "concierge desk," 24- hour room service and valet parking. Fountain Valley Regional Hospital is offering the POSH program, which for $300 will provide plastic surgery patients with "a room for one night, a gift basket and fresh flowers." Meanwhile, "[n]ew parents at Fountain Valley get free Anaheim Angels tickets." The AP/Bee reports that "[s]ometimes hospitals pay for the pampering. Sometimes patients pay, and sometimes the extras come from donations." St. Jude estimates that the "At Your Service" program costs $150,000 a year. However, hospitals are hoping it is money well spent. Jon Gilwee, vice president of the HealthCare Association of Southern California said, "If patients find that a hospital is a more choice place to be, then they may choose a health plan that includes that hospital." Becky Barney-Villano, director of Mission Hospital, said, "Consumers assume that they're going to get competent medical care. What really sets a hospital apart is how nice the people are." However, Arthur Levin, executive director of the Center for Medical Consumers, said, "It's very hard to substantiate a claim that you provide better care. But that's what I hope hospitals are spending their money on first" (3/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.