How should hospitals compete?

After all our complaints about how quality isn’t what it should be, I was excited to hear that hospitals were trying to find new ways to compete. Maybe a focus on quality? No:

Concierge service. Jacuzzi tubs. Bacon-wrapped scallops or New York strip steak prepared by professionally-trained chefs and brought to your room.

These amenities can be found at most new hospitals in Colorado and across the country. Gone are the days of sterile, white hallways, fluorescent lights and cloth curtains separating patients in the same room. The newest hospitals offer bountiful natural light, warm-colored walls and floors, soothing art and private patient rooms with large windows and relaxation videos.

Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lone Tree features fireplaces on every floor. Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora offers video games in patient rooms. The cafeteria at the new $435 million St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood includes a soda machine that can make 100 different types of drinks.

Look, I’m not suggesting that hospitals should be bleak places where people only suffer. But if you really need these amenities, I can suggest some really nice restaurants in the Denver area where you could eat.

Moreover, if insurance is covering this, even through cost-shifting, then that’s even more money that we’re spending on things that do not result in better outcomes. It’s probably not the right direction for the US health care system.

You should read the whole piece. Here’s the end:

“I don’t see extravagance,” Sherk said. “I think our clients are very budget-conscious. They are very considerate about cost and the rising cost of healthcare. They don’t want to go overboard by any means.”

I don’t know who their clientele are, but “budget-conscious” people aren’t usually the ones demanding jacuzzi tubs, bacon-wrapped scallops, and New York strip steak prepared by professionally-trained chefs.

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