'Whiny' docs spur on expensive technology purchases

Demanding doctors and an appetite to "keep up with the Joneses" of the healthcare world are among some of the more prominent reasons hospital executives choose to purchase expensive and oftentimes unnecessary technology, according to an article published this week by HealthLeaders Media. Cheryl Clark, who wrote the piece, said she was inspired by ECRI's latest list of must-watch technologies for hospital executives.

Pressure from doctors topped all other reasons for such purchases according to Clark, who spoke with several healthcare and hospital experts. For example, Clark wrote, many doctors nowadays are of the opinion that they absolutely must have the da Vinci surgical robot in their arsenal. "They cry; they whine; they threaten to quit or cause trouble if they don't get [the technology they desire]," she said. "High-demand/high-volume physicians under consideration for employment say they won't join an organization or practice unless it has a particular new, expensive gadget."

A desire to look better than competing hospitals also stood out as a major catalyst of spending for such technology. According to Clark, some hospital executives are of the mindset that an advertisement displaying the latest medical technology shows that they care more about patients than other facilities. SELECT Health Technology Services Vice President Jennifer Myers told Clark that if one hospital buys something big, other hospitals become "very reactive, almost like they go into panic mode and they have to buy [big technologies]."

A third reason for lavish purchases, Myers told Clark, was personal interest--where a physician or executive pushing for the technology actually owns a piece of the company. "The biggest proponent of the device owns a piece of the technology," Clark wrote.

For the rest of the list:
- read the HealthLeaders Media article