Can University of Illinois Hospital Save Its Brand?

Marianne Aiello, March 19, 2014

A decision by hospital leaders to participate in an advertising effort with an equipment vendor was intended to promote institutional expertise with robotic surgery. Instead it sparked an outcry among critics.


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Despite the countless blog posts, tweets, and articles published about the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System's da Vinci advertisement controversy, I'm still left with one resounding question: How did so many high-ranking officials think featuring several physicians and staff in a medical device company-financed ad was a good idea?

To briefly recap, a full-page ad promoting da Vinci robotic surgery, and featuring a dozen U of I physicians and staff in white lab coats, ran in the January 19 issue of the New York Times Magazine. The hospital was not compensated by Intuitive, the medical device company that makes the da Vinci technology, for its staff members appearing in the ad, although several of its doctors had done consulting work for the company in the past. In fact, one surgeon received about $16,000 in the most recent one-year reporting period, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The hospital's decision to participate in the ad was intended to promote institutional expertise with robotic surgery. Instead it sparked an outcry among critics, none louder than former Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CEO Paul Levy, who called the hospital's ethics into question in a series of blistering blog posts.

Marianne Aiello

Marianne Aiello is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.

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