USA Today tells us that thanks to patient surveys, hospitals are kissing our butts:
Special air-blowing vests keep patients warm pre-surgery. Private rooms are the norm. Staffers regularly check in with patients to anticipate their toilet and showering needs to cut down on call-light usage. Patients are given clear discharge instructions. Cleaning is no longer done at night. Patients are taught the difference between “pain-free” and “pain-controlled.”
Amenities such as free lattes and valet parking are not new to hospitals. They began offering them years ago in a high-stakes fight to lure patients. However, what hospitals are doing now is, for the most part, tailored to the survey questions they know patients will be asked.
“The problem is America is a free-market economy,” [Rajesh Balkrishnan of the University of Michigan] said. “We need to give patients a way to speak on what they think about health care, what works for them, how health care professionals work for them, because those factors go into determining whether treatments are successful.”
I don’t think any of us have a problem with the idea that they are trying to make a hospital stay a more pleasant experience. It’s hard to recover from whatever when there is too much noise to rest, for example. It’s great that staff is making a better effort at explaining what’s going to happen. Anticipating needs? Well that is mighty fine customer service. However, I think now we are starting to go too far.
For one thing, who the heck is paying for these valets, lattes, and pre-surgery warming vests? In the end, you and I are through higher premiums and taxes. Could we perhaps make do with a clean blankie and a coffee maker?
Second, all this nonsense loses sight of Reality. In Reality, people choose a hospital based on two factors and only two factors: What hospital will my insurance company pay for? or What hospital is closest to the site of the accident? The overwhelming majority of people don’t have the luxury of saying “General Hospital has a better record of surgical outcomes” or “St. Elsewhere has free espresso drinks!” Let’s stop pretending that any of this is considered by Joe and Jane Average when Joe’s having chest pain.
Speaking of Reality, I understand that Obamacare means more insured patients means more demand for physician services. But where exactly does Stacy think she’s going to find doctors for that medical office space she’s trying to rent out?
In Closing: it would be nice if reporters would actually read scientific studies before telling us what they say; light up crosswalks; they had to get water from somewhere; college readiness may be more than academic skills; some taxes are going up regardless of what gets decided about the fiscal cliff (at this point I’m mighty tempted to say let’s just go there and watch the backpedaling); OBEY; and the ultimate helicopter parents.