It seems these days no one is immune to the need for a great reputation.  Hospitals are even focusing on attracting new business by providing better service, amenities, and extras to their patients.

Upon finding out that we were expecting a new addition to our family, my husband and I set out to decide where to have this little guy brought into the world.  With our first, it was easy.  We lived in a small mountain town, and there was the hospital 20 minutes away, or the option of three others if we were interested in driving 90 minutes.  On mountain roads, while in labor?  No thanks.  We went with Option number one.

What better excuse to eat a gourmet cake than a birthday?

What better excuse to eat a gourmet cake than a birthday?

Since having our first child, we’ve moved back to a metropolitan area, and the decision making process was a whole lot different this time.  With three hospitals all close to the same distance from our home, we had to decide where we wanted to go.

Upon starting our research, we realized that all three of the facilities really wanted our business.  (Or our insurance dollars, you know, whatever.)  With perks from afternoon tea and pastries, to “ensuite” massage services, to hand-knitted baby blankets made by sweet little old ladies that wanted to send the babies home with something special, the emphasis on what your hospital can do for you (in addition to those silly lifesaving medical skills) is huge.  Oh, did I mention celebrity chefs and in-room newborn photographers?  Yeah, we have those too, apparently.

Other services I’ve heard about include sending new parents home with a week’s worth of frozen meals, postpartum pedicures, gourmet birthday cakes delivered upon your …delivery, video on demand, and online birth announcement services.  Valet parking is a perk of the past – pretty much considered a basic patient right now.

While the hospital we had our first child in was very nice, they knew they had you either way.  With so many people in a metro area, you’d think opinions would be relatively similar, right?  There are plenty of patients to go around.  Wrong.  Like any other for-profit industry, in non-emergent situations, hospital patrons vote with their wallets.

Hospitals are finally taking note, and according to an unnamed source of mine, marketing and reputation management are holding as much court in administrative meetings as medical discussions are.  With the average, non-complicated childbirth ringing in at around $10,000 (emergency situations can get into the six figure range alarmingly quickly), Labor and Delivery seemed like the perfect place to test out the effectiveness of these upgraded amenities.  After all, women talk, and if one’s birth experience is magical and luxurious, you can bet she’ll be recommending the hospital to her friends.  Not to mention the fact that once the baby is born, there is the potential for 18 years worth of ER visits, tonsillectomies, appendectomies, and anything else medical that might keep that profit wheel churning.  Giving a woman a $20 cake and a foot rub seems like a worthy investment now, doesn’t it?

While some care professionals may find this annoying, many are jumping on board.  As long as hospitals continue to count top medical staff as a selling point for their business, going above and beyond with customer service is never a bad idea.  They have happier patients, and sometimes the perks can take the edge off of the stress or fear of being stuck in a medical setting.  They’re also not complaining about the four star restaurants popping up on site – a far cry from what used to pass for food in hospital cafeterias.

While I do think medical care should be the top priority in a hospital setting, I won’t say that this recent change hasn’t benefitted me. The afternoon tea and pastries have been scrumptious!

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