My opinion: I think there may be some ways to make hospitals look nicer without spending so many funds on them. First of all, for hospitals to have things like nail salons probably isn't necessary. Instead, urban planners may be able to build such places around the hospital or vice versa. Also, many people complain that there is lack of artwork in hospitals, with their white walls mesmerizing visitors and patients. There are probably some artists who are willing to donate some of their creations to make the hospital environment more lively. Though this may help improve the quality of the hospital experience, these techniques can only do so much. Ultimately, though, I don't believe that cutting back on the hospital features will reduce the cost of healthcare by that much. Other articles of mine have stressed that the cost of medication/surgical parts are much higher than in Europe, and these probably cannot be correlated with the cost of the building. While this is one factor that may contribute to the financial situation in the healthcare industry, it doesn't play a main role in determining cost. Feel free to comment.
Is This a Hospital or a Hotel?
As the new St. Joseph’s Hospital in Highland, Ill., prepared to open in August, its chief executive exulted, “You feel like you could be at the Marriott.”
In the $63 million community hospital, patients all enjoy private rooms, with couches, flat-screen TVs and views of nature. Its lobby features stone fireplaces and a waterfall.
Some hospitals in the United States, like Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, have long been associated with deluxe accommodations, and others have always had suites for V.I.P.’s. But today even many smaller hospitals often offer general amenities, like room service and nail salons, more often associated with hotels than health care.
In the current boom of hospital construction, private rooms have become the norm. And some health economists worry that the luxury surroundings are adding unneeded costs to the nation’s $2.7 trillion health care bill.
There are some medical arguments for the trend — private rooms, for example, could lower infection rates and allow patients more rest as they heal. But the main reason for the largess is marketing.
In a highly competitive field, patients — sometimes now referred to as “guests” — appreciate amenities. The tactic works. “We found that patient demand correlates much better to amenities than quality of care,” said Dr. John Romley, a research professor at the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics of the University of Southern California, who has studied the trend. That means that hospitals can improve their bottom line and their reputation by focusing more on hospitality than health care — offering organic food by a celebrity chef rather than lowering medication errors, for example.
As a result, American hospitals are looking less and less like their more utilitarian counterparts in Europe, where the average hospital charges per day are often less than a quarter of those in the United States, according to the International Federation of Health Plans.