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Akron

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Akron Children's Hospital
Executive summary
The health care market in the Northeastern Ohio has been experiencing tremendous changes in the last few years. These changes have been more prominent among the health services for seriously ill children. Institutions that have in the past been involved in other health care services have turned to pediatrics. In order to combat this, Akron Children's Hospital has resulted to trying to understand the decision making procedures on institution or physician selection among the parents with seriously sick children. This was in an effort to differentiate itself from the other health care service providers.
With the identification of similarities in advertisement approaches within the major contenders for the Industry, more unique differentiation strategies were sought through researches to identify how to best communicate with the customers in a unique way that would give the company a competitive edge over other service providers.
Marcus Thomas LLC, the researcher contracted by Akron Children's Hospital, used telephone interviews and focus groups in learning the decision making behaviors. In both research approaches, parents with children between the ages of one month and eighteen years were sampled. The geographical spread of the sample exceeded the Summit County, where the hospital is based.
From the survey, it was inferred that the decision makers use their emotions rather than rationality when making decisions on health care provision for their children. Illness, especially that of a child, is a rather traumatic experience, hence the presence o f emotions in the decision making process. The researcher exploited this approach by appealing to the emotive aspect of human beings through availing recordings of daily lives at the institution. Throughout the research process, differentiation was maintained to increase validity, reliability and capacity for generalization.
Introduction
Globalization and increased changes in technology have changed the competitiveness in the markets today. This is especially the case within the health care sector where quality of the services and customer satisfaction go hand in hand in determining the positioning of an institution. As the industry has been flooded by private and public service providers, the need for institutions to understand the needs of the consumers, hence their decision making patterns has become important. This has been in an effort to become better positioned, hence more competitive. This paper gives an analysis of Akron Children's Hospital, a Northeastern Ohio pediatric care provider. The focus of the analysis is on the research approaches used to obtain the information used by the institution to promote and better position itself.
Case analysis
The need for research is identified as stemming from increased competition from already existing and new entrants into the pediatric health care service provision within the Northeastern Ohio markets. In order for Akron Children's Hospital to remain viable in this market, it had to look for ways to remain competitive through service differentiation. The hospital sought to increase people’s awareness about the hospital through advertisement, although the effectiveness of the advertisement messages was unknown to the institution. The research was, therefore, aimed at gauging the influence the advertisement campaign had on decision making behaviors of the parents with experiences on acute care (Cooper & Schindler, 2008).
Reliability of the information gathered was ensured through focusing the study on the appropriate population. Since the institution is based at Summit County, the research was conducted within this county and other surrounding ones for future expansion. Geographical reliability was in addition to demographic reliability, where the study was focused on health care provision to children between the ages of 1 month and 18 years. This increased the reliability of information because Akron Children's Hospital is a pediatric health care provider (Schagen, 2000).
During the process of acquiring the sample for the focus group, purposive and convenient sampling was used where only parents that had experience with acute care incidents were sampled (Cooper & Schindler, 2008). These approaches to sampling limit the representativeness of the sample. This is mainly due to the fact that the sampling process does not give all elements within the population an equal and non-zero probability of being part of the sample. This arises due to researcher bi as through subjectivity. This, therefore, limited the research on being an authority on the subject due to its limitation on representation.
The differentiation of the respondents chosen in terms of their income levels, age, sex and the nature of ailments their children were suffering from, on the other hand, increases the representativeness of the survey (Cooper & Schindler, 2008).
For the third research which involved phone interviews, random sampling and the large number of the sample improved the validity of data by raising the confidence interval to 95%. The level of margin error recorded was 3.1 percent, thus indicating that the research most likely collected the information it set out to. The differentiation noted in the sample for the telephone surveys can be commended for the high confidence intervals (Lebkowski, 1988). The differentiations were in terms of education, income, sex and age. The information that they offered was about the factors influencing the decisions made by parents concerning health care provision for their sick children. The randomness with which the sample for this survey was selected increases the representativeness of the survey. This is because of the fact that a non-zero chance is given for each individual within the population to be a part of the sample.
Since the questionnaires used allows for both open and close ended questions, the research leaves room for the respondents to add on the survey by stating their opinions or impressions. This enables the researcher the opportunity to record the emotive driven responses towards pediatric health care (Lebkowski, 1988). The structure of the questionnaire allows for the researcher to first gather information on general matters before moving on to more personal and serious matters. Since respondents are generally less forthcoming about personal matters especially when the confidentiality of the survey is not guaranteed, asking general questions first will encourage the respondent to answers the more personal questions later on. Putting the question about household income at the end of the questionnaire in this survey serves this purpose. This is in addition to questions about employment situations, marital status, and levels of education achievement.
In sampling for telephone surveys, representativeness is hard to achieve due to the fact that not every individual in the population can be reached by telephone. Statistically speaking, about 10% o f individuals in the general population cannot access telephone services. This is in addition to the number of within this population that has ex-directory numbers. This means that using the directory reach the population through a telephone will be limited to the number of numbers in the directory. These shortcomings are amplified by the increasing number of unresponsiveness to telephone surveys because most view them as promotional or sale approaches (Lebkowski, 1988).
This research lacks clear analysis of its shortcomings and limitations. This is in addition to a lack of a clear guideline on how to remain ethical during the whole process of the research. Since the research is based on one of the most personal issues, the respondents need to be protected. This is in addition to giving them clear information on what the responses are to be used for. This is especially the case for those filmed and used for the advertising campaigns. The limitations of the study should have involved comparisons among desired samples and procedures, with the actual samples and procedures (Lebkowski, 1988). This is in addition to detailing the impact of these limitations on the findings and inferences made about the information gotten.
Since health care provision, especially for the young children involves serious cases, the advertisement through filming of the real case scenarios within the day to day running of the institution, and using them for promoting the institution incorporates a sense of realism not shown by other approaches to advertising. This is because of the fact that this approach is seen as a fact giving mission and not a marketing strategy (Cooper & Schindler, 2008). The fact that the children are given some choices makes them feel more in control and not as a victim, a situation that would have developed were all decisions about the care to be made by other people (Schagen, 2000).
The use of both the focus groups and telephone interviews in this survey helped the researchers confirm their findings. This is because of the fact that the researcher used two distinct approaches to research on the same topic. Since the results from both researches supported each other, validity of the information is assured (Cooper & Schindler, 2008).
The recording of the parents and their sick children behaviors captured the interactions among the patients, their parents, and doctors during the course of treatment (Cooper & Schindler, 2008). Recording behavior on tape reduces most of the biases associated with the researcher having contact with the respondents (Lebkowski, 1988). This is because of the fact that once behavior is captured, it cannot be modified. Future reference to such recordings makes it easy for the researcher to make further examinations of the behavior. This helps avoid memory limitations of the researcher, hence increasing validity and reliability of the data.
The long period of filming which took place for 12 hours each day, and extended for 3 weeks enabled the researchers to record the real practices within the organization. The long periods of filming each day were aimed at ascertaining that the institution’s staff was not acting for the sake of creating a better self image. The extended timeframe, on the other hand, sought to investigate repetitiveness of behaviors, and their impacts on health care provision (Cooper & Schindler, 2008).
As a recommendation, the institution should keep studying consumer preferences in order to retain its markets while conquering more markets. This is due to the fact that the constant changes in the market are bound to make some practices obsolete with time. Adoption of this marketing strategy will force this institution to come up with other approaches to marketing. It should, therefore, strive to be more flexible in order to meet any conditions in the market.
Conclusion
Competition has increased in all aspects of human life, especially due to the increased changes in the approaches to service provision. Interactions among different communities have led to increased changes in consumer wants. In the case of health care provision, the increased competition has led to more innovative approaches to service provision.
With the increased competition in pediatric health care industry through health care providers diversifying to this industry, and establishment of new providers, Akron Children's Hospital sought to diversify and position itself more competitively. A survey on ways to diversify resulted in adoption of a documentary like approach to advertisement where potential and current customers were shown the activities involved in seeking health care at the institution.

References
Schagen, I. (2000). Doing quantitative research in the social sciences: An integrated approach to research design, measurement and statistics. British Educational Research Journal, 26(2), 299-299. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com
Lebkowski, J.M. (1988). 'Telephone Sampling Methods in the United States' in Telephone Survey Methodology, Groves et al. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Cooper, D.R., & Schindler, P.S. (2011). Business Research Methods. New York, NY: McGraw- Hill Irwin.
Schindler, P. S (2008). Akron Children’s Hospital, Part A. Business Research Methods, 11e, Cooper/Schindler. (Attached)

Schindler, P. S (2008). Akron Children’s Hospital, Part B. Business Research Methods, 11e, Cooper/Schindler. (Attached)

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