Hospitals vs. Medical Centers

If you were sick, would you rather go to a hospital or a medical center? What do you think most patients would say? Two New Jersey-based consulting firms, Rivkin & Associates LLC and Bauman Research & Consulting LLC, recently set out to answer that question. They conducted a telephone survey of more than 1,000 adults in the continental United States and found that more consumers had favorable views of hospitals than medical centers.

The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital, is in Boston. Image via Wikimedia Commons by user Ecm 85.

The pollsters asked consumers to think about the terms “hospital” and “medical center” and then say in which type of facility they would expect to have a wider range of services, better quality medical care, up-to-date technologies and procedures, and physicians who are experts in their fields. Hospitals won out in every category.

About 61% of survey respondents said hospitals have a wider range of services, while 31% said medical centers do. Another 6% of respondents said it made no difference and 2% didn’t know. Medical centers came closest to hospitals on the question of which facility had more expert physicians. In that case, 46% of respondents said hospitals would be more likely to have top physicians on staff, compared to 34% who said medical centers, 19% who said it made no difference, and 2% who said they didn’t know.

The results fly in the face of the conventional wisdom among many hospital leaders that the term “hospital” is old fashioned and that “medical center” conveys more of a sense of prestige, according to Steve Rivkin, the founder of one of the consulting firms that conducted the survey. But since the survey didn’t ask consumers why they chose hospitals over medical centers, it’s unclear why there’s such a gap between the conventional thinking and consumer perceptions.

So what about the perceptions of the physicians, nurses, and other health care providers working in those hospitals and medical centers? Take our poll and tell us what you think.

— Mary Ellen Schneider (on Twitter @MaryEllenNY)

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Filed under Hospital and Critical Care Medicine, IMNG, Polls, Practice Trends

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