There’s a scene in one of my favorite movies where two actors are having a conversation in a bookstore. One of the actors holds up a rare edition of a beloved book with a hefty price tag. He begins to describe the theme and the plot and why it’s stood the test of time as a classic novel. The other actor considers what he’s just heard, notes the price of the book (quite high), gasps and says “Wow, is that why it costs so much?”

To which the other actor replies, ‘No, that’s why it’s WORTH so much.”

There’s a subtle difference between price and value. Price is determined by a lot of things – market demands, what people are willing to pay, past sales, etc. But value, well, value is something a bit more individual It’s determined less by a set of arbitrary market factors and more on the human response. Value is something we ascribe. It’s personal. It’s human. And it varies from one person to another.

While we all look for a good bargain, I think it’s safe to say that in general, we’ll pay more for products or services if we think they have greater value. More of the things we’re looking for.

A great example is the airlines. Not to bash any one particular airline, but there are a few airlines whose sole selling point is that they offer the cheapest fares. While that may work for some people initially, they soon realize that there are additional fees for bags, drinks, and the tiny bag of peanuts. These airlines have to compensate for their low airfares by nickel and dime-ing customers for services that most airlines provide for free.

Price is a common denominator, but value is where it’s at. Healthcare costs may vary from facility to facility but by and large, the patient’s out of pocket is determined by what their insurance covers (or doesn’t cover). When given a choice, I’m betting they’ll choose to receive care at a place that treats them with kindness and compassion. Where doctors, nurses and the whole care team treat them like individual patients rather than the hip replacement in room 205. Where the communication between them and their care team is good and consistent and reassuring and fosters trust and peace of mind. All of these things add value to the patient experience.

Value is the key differentiator between your hospital or care facility and your competitors.

You may not have any control over the prices you charge for various services, but you do have control over the value you bring to the patient experience.