Hospital Affinity Programs Reward Loyalty and Give Members VIP Treatment
by Cheryl L. Serra
Members of the Spirit of Women in Springfield, MA, recently had the opportunity to see and hear humorist and work-life balance expert Juliet Funt, daughter of Allen Funt, host of the 1970s TV show “Candid Camera.” They may also take advantage of a discount on the cost of mini-med school, an eight-part health education series on topics such as psychiatry, infectious disease, and surgery led by Baystate Medical Center physicians and staff. These women aren’t enrolled in the local community college. Rather, they belong to one of an estimated 600 VIP loyalty programs, also called affinity programs, in hospitals across the nation.
The goal of these mostly no-cost programs is to provide members with benefits such as educational and social programming and discounts on goods and services. In return, members come back to the sponsoring hospital when they need health care services. Members may also be tapped to volunteer and participate in political advocacy and development activities, according to Suzanne Hendery, vice president of marketing and communications for the medical center’s parent organization, Baystate Health.