Hospitals Experiment With New Marketing, But Critics Say Money Should Be Spent On Health Care
Hospital marketing can be an effective way to attract doctors and new patients, but some critics say hospitals should spend the money on health care instead.
Kaiser Health News, in collaboration with NPR, reports on an innovative new marketing event: doctor-patient speed dating. A hospital outside Dallas, Texas, "running the event hopes to hook up people needing doctors with physicians looking for new patients. ... Physicians and parents pair off for five minutes, then rotate into new conversations. ... Although some critics say marketing drives up the cost and use of health care, many in the hospital industry say it's crucial in the face of increasing competition, which includes not only other hospitals, but also private operations such as surgical and imaging centers. In addition, they say much of hospital marketing is geared to educating patients and physicians about the hospital's quality and services" (Gold, 5/18).
NPR also interviewed James Unland, editor of the Journal of Health Care Finance, who argues that hospitals should not spend money on radio or television advertising, which is expensive. Instead, he says, marketing can be done more efficiently and cheaply through direct mail and the Internet (Neary, 5/18).