Hospital Hypes - Patient YIPES!


We can't help notice the recent striking increase in hospital and health insurer advertising on radio and television. It seems that every hospital and health insurer suddenly feels the need to sing its own praises, in commercials which are elaborately produced, at great expense, by professional spinmeisters, and are designed to inspire a sense of fear and awe in any patient who might even consider going elsewhere.

Indeed, hospitals are now being marketed just like any other commodity. We are told repeatedly, not only of their prowess in medicine and technology, but also of the kindness and caring which makes each one special and superior to the next.

We recently went to visit a friend at a local hospital and were amazed to see, displayed on a mantel behind the main reception desk, (which, by the way, had the look of a 4-star hotel), a series of ornate plaques announcing the ratings given the hospital by a well known private commercial testing agency (heretofore known more for its evaluation of cars than care).

When exactly did we come to this point, and why? Is nothing, including life and death, free of spin anymore?

More importantly, as the hospital and insurer rush to publicly proclaim and "sell" the public about their claimed superiority becomes more pervasive, has there been any corresponding increase in quality of care? Has there been any sign that the cost of health care is going down? Unfortunately, the answer to both questions is a resounding NO. Are the spinmeisters  being hired to distract us from these very sad facts .

As the nation debates the wisdom and cost of national health insurance, and bemoans the outrageous expense of health care in this country, maybe we should start to think about what is really important in the delivery of health care. Why are slick commercials and private ratings accolades becoming so important, and what does that say about the delivery of healthcare in this country?

Perhaps the healthcare and insurance industries, and hospitals in particular, should spend less time and money telling us how good they are, and more time and money actually being good.

What a revolutionary concept!