Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What Do Hospitals Have to Do With Baseball?

Parkview Health announced it would pay $3 million over 10 years for the right to have its name atop the new downtown baseball stadium. Parkview Field will be the first major venue in the Summit City to have a corporate sponsor.
And we think drug company direct-to-consumer advertisements are bad. It is interesting to note that 1/2 the monies pay the city and the other half pay the owner. But for people like me who question this practice, they retort:
For those upset the stadium will have a sponsor at all, Grinstead said that is simply the way sports businesses are run today. Because minor league baseball teams have no control over their players, they need to be creative in making money. He said some teams are even having corporate-sponsored patios and parking lots.
Certainly hospital system advertising is not new, and this is just another format, albeit a big one, for the same. Paul Levy, CEO of Beth Irael Deaconess Medical Center, has commented that advertising is less likely to affect hospital's bottom lines, but placate doctor's narcissism about working at the best medical center:
Another purpose is to respond from pressure from your doctors and show them that you support their programs. Before I took this job, I talked with the head of a major Boston hospital who gave that as the primary reason for ads. "There is no evidence that ads work in creating business," he said, "but we need to keep our doctors happy." I have certainly felt that pressure in my place, and so I understand the desire to send a signal to your doctors -- who, after all, are essentially free agents who can easily change hospital affiliation -- that you support their practices.
He also comments later what the real motivation for academic center for this branding is:
I think the ads are posted mainly as a component of creating a broader brand identity. In this regard, hospital ads are remarkably similar to many other corporate ads. But unlike other industries that use it to drive sales, brand identity in the medical field is probably minimally important in generating and maintaining a sufficient level of clinical business. Perhaps more important, it helps create a mindset that the hospital has standing and stature and permanence in the community. This is important in attracting employees, enhancing physician recruitment and affiliations with other hospitals and physician practices, and generating interest from lay members of the community to serve on the hospital's governing bodies and to offer philanthropic support. These three purposes are actually fundamental to commercial viability in the health care world, especially for academic medical centers.
It seems to me that supporting baseball stadiums (and their owners) as a means of maintaining "commercial viability," especially for tax-exempt non-profits, is a bit of a stretch, particularly in light of the cost issues that patients must endure in medicine these days.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Our hospitals (two) in a relatively small city advertise relentlessly and are both building large, fancy new wings.

Sort of makes it hard to buy the idea that health care is underpaid, doesn't it?