Friday, July 24, 2015

Hospital Advertising

Some years ago I participated in a discussion of marketing strategy at New England Baptist Hospital in Boston.  I mentioned that many patients came to that institution because they believed it offered the best chance for a good outcome.  I asked if they were correct, suggesting that if they were, their belief could be an effective marketing theme.

After a rather embarrassed silence, one of the physicians said that they did not know, but that they should.

Well, they now know more than they did.  I’ve received a document from the Hospital titled “A pledge from New England Baptist, your Orthopedic Hospital.”  After some narrative describing the hospital’s dedication to quality care, there are three pages of quality-related statistics.

Some of it is a little opaque, including a number described as “Statistical Prediction of Infection” attributed to a Massachusetts CY2013 HA/Data Report and something called Post-op DVT, which is undefined.  So there is room for improvement, but the accomplishment is real.

The hospital has good reason to be proud of its numbers.  However, it has not gone so far as to include them in its advertising, so far as I know.  Fifty years ago it was considered unethical for a hospital to advertise at all.  That is no longer the case, but there seems still to be a reticence to make overt claims to clinical superiority.

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