Does the word 'hospital' have a negative connotation in the eyes of consumers? In recent years, many healthcare professionals thought so. To attract consumer attention, hospitals across the country joined the trend of renaming themselves as medical centers. But new research shows they may have acted too quickly.
A survey released by Rivkin & Associates LLC and Bauman Research & Consulting LLC finds that “consumers favor a ‘hospital’ across the board on the four attributes we measured,” says Sandra Bauman, PhD, founder of Bauman Research & Consulting. By a margin of nearly 2 to 1, consumers believe hospitals (61%) provide a wider range of services than medical centers (31%). Consumers under age 35, those earning under $50,000 annually and those with less education are especially likely to hold this opinion.
Over half of consumers believe that a hospital is more likely to be up on the ‘cutting edge of medicine’. And a similar number, 52%, say that hospitals provide better care than medical centers (32%). These numbers generally held up across all demographic categories such as age, income and education.
Hospitals also appear to have an edge when consumers consider the quality of physicians. Almost half, 46%, say that hospitals are more likely to be staffed with physicians who are experts in their field. Over half of younger consumers say this is true.
Steve Rivkin, founder of Rivkin & Associates and one of the study authors believes that hospitals began renaming themselves as they expanded their services, built their academic reputations, and sought to attract the best physicians and other professionals. If healthcare services are intent on keeping their medical center name, they’ll need to engage in more marketing campaigns to educate consumers on the depth and breadth of their mission.[Source: Consumers Prefer ‘Hospitals’ over ‘Medical Centers’ According to New Survey. Rivkin & Associates. 21 Jun. 2011. Web. 28 Jun. 2011]