Hospitals step up ritzy care for the wealthy

When it comes to fancy amenities, some patients are apparently more equal than others. Increasingly, hospitals are developing high-end, five-star-hotel like amenities for the well-heeled, tempting these patients with fine linens, broadband Internet and flat-screen TVs in their rooms. Such patients are an attractive target because they pay top rates, either shelling out their own cash or being paid for directly by their employers as an extra perk. These batteries of tests and examinations--which some might argue are solid medicine, not just a luxury--are also paid for by people of modest means who want to make sure they're not headed for medical trouble. All are hoping to avoid the rushed 15-minute visits they typically get when they have a standard medical appointment.

These services are cash cows. The so-called "executive physical," an all-day screening examination involving multiple specialists and a large battery of tests, can cost $1,500 to $7,000. During the physical, execs get comfy bathrobes, fancy food and access to business centers where they can work as needed. Even more importantly, they get all-day access to their doctors. "The setting is a little more relaxed, and you can build up a rapport," said Navin Dimond, head of hotel owner and operator Stonebridge Cos. "If you can't be completely candid with your physician, then your physician can't completely help you."

To get more background on this trend:
- read this piece from The Miami Herald

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