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What goes into choosing a hospital?

May 19, 2009
by kate
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During an editorial meeting a few weeks ago, I was discussing an article I’m writing that will examine what hospitals are doing to reduce carbon footprint, and a very interesting point was raised as to whether “greening” a hospital can result in a soft ROI. That is, can environmentally-friendly initiatives attract more patients to an organization?

I was curious, so while researching the piece, I posed the question to a few of my sources, and I got some very thoughtful responses.

Some said they didn’t know if a hospital’s decision to reduce energy or construct a wing using earth-friendly materials would have any real impact on an individual’s choice of facility. One person said he would be much more likely to choose a “green” health system, and another said that although it was probably a plus for many patients, the environmental factor is just one of many that patients will consider when choosing a hospital.

This got me thinking — what are the key factors in selecting a health system? As a self-proclaimed tree hugger, I’d say that I would certainly give more consideration to a facility that uses renewable energy and recycles, but I’d definitely look at other aspects. With this in mind, I put together a list of possible considerations:

· Geography (although in populated areas, there might be several hospitals within a 15-mile radius)

· Recommendations from friends

· Rankings from media outlets like U.S. News and World Report

· Good reputation in a particular field (cardiology, maternity ward)

· Strong presence in the community

· Patient-friendly factors like private rooms, flatscreen TVs and edible food

· The technology factor (many sites now advertise things like Da Vinci robots on their websites, and well over 100 hospitals use social media sites like Twitter and Facebook)

I’ve heard people list all of these as reasons for choosing a facility; although it’s usually a combination of factors. But which reasons matter most to hospital executives, and how much of role does in play in shaping a strategy? For instance, if a particular initiative or implementation has the potential to get more patients in the door, does it get pushed to the front burner during these tough economic times?

What do you think?

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