Recently, I received two ads for two different hospitals, and of course their emergency departments.
The first hospital’s ad arrived in the mail. It included a map, labeled “You’re only 6 miles from EXPERT ER CARE,” and the actual route I would need marked with a nice bold, blue line. Oh thank goodness, otherwise I might have had no idea how to get to that big hospital building clearly visible just off the freeway.
The second hospital left a card hanging on the door hyping how close they were. It included a refrigerator magnet with “IN CASE OF EMERGENCY,” the address (including which freeway exit to take), a phone number, and even a web address. Because when you are having a medical emergency, you really want to check their website before going to the hospital. Right?
Now here’s the problem: to get to either hospital, I have to drive by a third hospital that is probably within walking distance of my home. Well, maybe not walking distance if I am having a medical emergency. Heck, the kids who hung the magnet on my door probably drove past the third hospital as well. Why on earth would I go to a hospital that is further away if I actually need the services of an emergency department? In a medical emergency, I need help now, not 6 miles from now.
The point is that both hospitals completely wasted money printing and delivering advertising to me. That money didn’t help a single patient. That money didn’t pay for a single doctor, nurse, medical assistant, or even janitor. That money didn’t buy any medical equipment or medications. That money didn’t keep the lights on in an operating room. That money didn’t even line the pockets of a hospital executive… unless his wife owns a printing company.
Cutting worthless ads won’t solve the issue of health care costs, but it’s a painless first step.