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Banned in America – Hospital Marketing?


From television ads designed to attract patients to glossy booklets promoting capital campaigns, hospital marketing and advertising has become common.

Now some Vermont legislators are contemplating banning it as one way to control health care costs. The idea is getting mixed reviews from the state’s hospitals.

A state legislator from Vermont proposed a law that would prohibit hospitals from spending money on advertising or marketing. Democrat Steve Maier doesn’t approve of that type of spending when the state struggles year after to year to contain skyrocketing healthcare costs: “It’s not producing health care,” Maier said in an interview in the Burlington Free Press.

I’m not taking sides (even though Maier’s comment seems a bit boneheaded) but the perspective is way off track. Does Detroit say “I wonder if we should continue marketing? It doesn’t produce cars” or McDonald’s asks if Ronald can flip a burger.

Is this marketing or information?

Further has Mr. Maier defined what constitutes marketing? If not one might make a case for this sign to be marketing. It promotes this Vermont’s hospital “Emergency Room”. And, worse still, the sign markets service upgrades like “Valet” parking. No one has ever accused the valet guy of being a brain surgeon.

Marianne Aiello is marketing editor for HealthLeaders Media. She fired back within hours with “Six Reasons Proposed Hospital Advertising Ban Will Never Pass”

Aiello is spot on. I’d put my money on her.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 04/14/2010 8:11 am

    Marketing costs represent a minuscule amount in a hospital’s budget. Cutting these is like clipping your toenails and expecting to lose weight.

    Want to cut health care costs, lets look a the real issues: high prescription drug costs, unnecessary tests and procedures, exorbitant insurance premiums and frivolous lawsuits. Oh wait, we can’t because those changes would be hard enact and those industries have huge lobbying organizations to protect the status quo.

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