In the context of patient care and health in all its aspects, the concept of hospitalization around the world has shifted and taking care of the patient’s well-being and psychological comfort and health is now a priority. Recent American studies have shown the importance of the patient’s psychological comfort on his health and the speed of his recovery. The fear of hospitals or considering it a place for the ill only, reflects negatively and to a large extent on the entire hospitalization process. Hence, the idea of turning the hospital into a place of comfort and relaxation with healthcare provision, made the idea of going to the hospital more acceptable, and the recovery process more effective and easy.
Surveys and data have shown that anyone entering a hotel feels how important he is. This feeling gives him a certain comfort and satisfaction. Since the institution and the service provided were originally found to achieve maximum comfort and positivity, hospitals have been seeking for a while to adopt and apply this concept in order to ensure both healing and comfort for the patient, based on the result of the numerous studies conducted in this field.
Studies also found that some differences between the preferences of “less healthy” and “healthier” patients, with the less healthy patients willing to pay, on average, 13% higher out-of-pocket expenses for hotel-like hospital rooms than the healthier patients. Wealthier patients who are hospitalized for longer periods and are more financially secure are more likely to request hotel-like hospital rooms, which presents an opportunity for hospitals to use hotel-like “sale” techniques for this group of patients.
The new approach that hospitals are starting to adopt is patient satisfaction. Just like restaurants and hotels for the customers. Accordingly, researchers and healthcare providers have sought to understand the dynamics of the total product from a marketing perspective. The focus on the patient experience has led healthcare providers to look at the service as it is offered in other industries. The question was: What does the patient want?
Besides implementing the strategies used in the guest service industries, another aspect of adopting patient-centered care is the focus on consumers and their experiences that is also the core value of service design. Hospital administrators understood the communicative power of work environment cues from the customer’s point of view rather than that of the architect or manager.
Studies give this example: When you enter a hotel, you feel that you are considered an important person, while when entering a hospital, you feel that you are just a medical condition that requires hospitalization and treatment. Given that the patient deserves to be honored and likes to be given attention, the care has expanded to become a hospotel bringing luxury, comfort and healing together.
Studies confirm positive outcomes
Based on this concept, information that patient-centered care in the hospital environment is emerging more and more, and that a new generation of healthcare facilities will be significantly different from today’s familiar institutional models. The factor that lies behind these new developments, known as evidence-based design (EBD), derives from a number of fields of study including neuroscience, developmental biology, neuroimmunology and environmental psychology while focusing on the idea that designing this type of luxury care can improve the built environment and the quality of healthcare.
Research indicated that well-designed physical settings play an important role in making hospitals safer and more healing for patients and better places for staff to work and be productive. The research also supports the idea that creating healing environments through EBD makes hospitals less stressful, promotes faster healing for patients, and improves well-being for families. On the other hand, the medical staff, including doctors, nurses and administrators, work in a better atmosphere and higher psychological comfort, thus achieving greater productivity.
In the past few years, there has been an ever-expanding new concept of compensation for hospitals and doctors called “value-based purchasing” or “pay-for-performance”. This requires mandatory reporting of patient experiences through the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey. Hospitals with more comfortable, safer and more patient-centered environments are rated and approved by patients in this survey. The guaranteed welfare and distinguished service may have a significant impact on the patient’s choice of hospital, which in turn affects its market share and raises its financial outcomes.
Research found that satisfaction with the working environment and hospital stay, which was obtained through various sources such as interior design, architecture, service, privacy and the surrounding environment, was a significant indicator of patients’ overall satisfaction with the hospital experience. A study of patients with pneumonia found that one standard pattern of increased hotel-like amenities in a hospital increased demand by 38.5 percent, on average. Whereas the request based on other clinical criteria was significantly less responsive.
A new way of delivering hospitality and hospitalization
Hospitals are now beginning to create settings that provide patients with a sense of hospitality. Some hospitals are taking healthcare to a new level of luxury; they are competing for wealthy clients who want psychological comfort and welfare wherever they are. These patients are fully pampered from elegant high-thread bedding and marble bathrooms to restaurant-like menus and private concierge services. This is changing the healthcare scene and generating a better work environment supported by smart decisions.
There is a growing acceptance of the idea that success in both healthcare and hospitality depends on the fundamental principle of developing a culture of respect and the appreciation of all stakeholders. Not only do healthcare providers benefit from design ideas in the hospitality industry, but also from a hospitality approach that focus on a culture of service. A customer-centric culture provides high-quality service across industries (including healthcare) and is a factor that goes beyond critical customer service skills.
Creating hospotels by including hotel-like amenities together with product (design) and service dimensions is becoming attractive. Patients who stayed in hotel-like rooms received higher assessments for doctors and nurses and for overall service performance. Creating more psychologically and physically attractive environments had a ripple effect on patient satisfaction, both during and after their hospital stay. The patient’s evaluation of hospotel services showed that those who understood the importance of providing better customer service, in terms of courtesy, speed and cleanliness, indicated significantly higher levels of satisfaction. Patients view their hospital rooms as an integrated experience, a bundle of features, and do not evaluate each element individually. Therefore, design innovations focused on the patient experience in the hospital room rather than the hospital facility as a whole.
Top-notch services at a limited cost
This shift in focus may not include large-scale capital investment and significant financial gain. Spa services with state-of-the-art bathing facilities (such as high-quality towels, soap, shampoo and toiletries), as well as an in-room salon, may not add significant sums to a hospital’s profitability, but they inevitably increase patient satisfaction.
Food and beverage services (kitchenette including refrigerator and coffee maker) and room service upon request may improve the patient’s attitude. Artwork on the walls and colorful wall designs add to the ambiance rather than the costs, especially when local artists and art students are involved in the space planning and design. While luxury bed linen may not meet all healthcare needs, it does of course affect patient comfort and satisfaction. For instance:
- Smart room technology including patient health monitoring and a personal entertainment tablet that may ease patient concerns about their current medical condition.
- Concierge services provide patients with flexibility and a sense of control when deciding on foods, beverages and activities.
- Adopting a trained healthcare staff to deal with patients. Healthcare personnel trained by hospitality industry professionals can guide the medical staff on how to treat their patients in a pleasurable and reassuring manner in a variety of situations and environments.
- Providing aromatherapy and mood lighting; the opportunity to control part of the hospital environment may be reassuring, indicating that recovery is possible.
- One room for each patient to prevent cross-contamination that often happens to patients or their companions in traditional hospitals.
- Psychological comfort in the hospital stay contributes to a speedy recovery. Feeling like you are going to the hotel and not to the hospital helps a lot in providing psychological comfort.
- Studies have proven the importance of hospotels in improving the quality of hospitalization, whether for patients, doctors, nurses, or insurance company transactions while covering medical business. Everyone knows the importance and impact of work stress on the performance of the doctor and the medical team, which is reflected on the quality of service for the patient.
A revolution in the hospitalization world
Hospitals can benefit from providing hotel-like features not only in terms of competitive advantage but can also provide a way to improve patient experience and satisfaction while boosting revenue through a hotel-like pricing strategy.
Regardless of the details, making patient care environments less scary and more welcoming is an important part of the health process. It is recognized that the guiding principle should be patient safety and well-being although some experts believe that the current trend of turning patients into “customers” or “consumers” is misleading. Unfortunately, some healthcare executives are slow to accept change and this may be because they have invested heavily in the status quo.
A report from the Norwegian Knowledge Center for the Health Services talks about the impact of hospotels on hospitals and patients, saying: In Norway, patients hotels market themselves as an option for inpatients that do not need medical attention 24 hours a day and as a respite in treatment. A patient hotel can offer patients short distance to expertise and treatment if necessary, while the hospital frees a bed for patients with greater need of treatment. A patient hotel can be a suitable accommodation for patients before, during, or after a hospital stay.
In connection with the economic considerations in the regional health authorities, a review about the effects of patient hotels would contribute to a clarification to whether to increase the investments in such facilities. The Knowledge Centre received a commission from South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority, Department of Service Development and Interaction to summarize the knowledge on effect of patient hotels. The effects of patient hotels should be measured for both the hospital, in terms of costs, but also for the patients, in terms of safety or satisfaction. In the project patient hotels should be compared with other types of accommodation. The project was not limited to studies that compared patient hotels with inpatient stay, but all other accommodations without extensive treatment, also stay in their own home.
This pattern adopted in the Arab world, has proven to have revolutionized the world of hospitalization, and promises a brighter future to serve the patient, the doctor, the investor and the healthcare sector in general. Hotel-inspired amenities allow hospitals to outpace competitors, while increased services could improve health outcomes in many hospitals, some of which are even beginning to lift strict limits on ICU visits.