Patients are amenable to amenities--even at higher cost

Hotel-like amenities and other touches borrowed from the hospitality industry are on the rise in healthcare facilities, but experts worry the cost of such touches may trickle down to consumers.

While hospitals say the costs of such upgrades are covered by donations and grants rather than patients, it all plays into a larger marketing plan, writes Robert I. Field, Ph.D., of Drexel University Kline School of Law & Dornside School of Public Health in a blog post for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Such amenities can lead to higher operating costs, which are used to set reimbursement rates, Field writes. These rates, in turn, are reflected in insurance premiums and Medicare/Medicaid spending. Moreover, Field notes, research indicates such luxuries have little effect on patient outcomes.

“There’s nothing wrong with trying to make the stressful experience of a hospital stay as comfortable as possible,” Field writes. “And patients seem to value amenities when choosing a hospital. But marketing and luxury add-ons are helping to make our healthcare system the most expensive in the world.”

Despite these concerns, research indicates patients will pay up to 38 percent more for hotel-quality hospital rooms, according to research from Boston University's School of Hospitality Administration. The team, led by assistant professor Courtney Suess-Raeisinafchi, surveyed about 400 people on what kinds of hospital amenities they liked the most, and found interior design was the most important factor for consumers. The survey also found patients who’d spent more time in hospitals were willing to pay even more than average, expressing willingness to pay 44 percent more.

- read the blog post
- here’s the Boston University article