Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Putting hospitality into hospitals
Hospitals should do more than following the hospitality sector’s lead in its client-centric approach; they should also look to successful hotels for lessons on how to keep employees motivated.
Lush trees and rolling fields occupied by orange-beak hornbills, swinging monkeys and hopping bunnies surrounded me. At the push of a button, I could call for room service to make up the bed, and warm meals prepared according to my requests would be sent to my room. In-room amenities included a flatscreen TV, a lounge sofa, a working table and in-suite bathroom facilities. Amiable butlers would swing around regularly for checks while the manager would drop in for a chat twice a day. In the compound, there were F&B outlets and cafes, a hair salon, gift shops and a 24/7 convenience store.
You would be forgiven to think that I’m describing a resort stay. It’s actually a stay at a children’s hospital, where my husband and I spent two nights when my 11-month-old baby suffered a severe bout of diarrhoea. The animal-studded landscapes were but colourful wall images in the children’s ward, the pleasant butlers the team of nurses and the manager the paediatrician handling my daughter’s case.
The deluxe accommodation and well-kitted amenities indeed made the hospital a healing environment for my daughter to recuperate in and a less stressful one for my husband and I, as we could take turns to rest on the bed and sofa, catch up on our work thanks to in-room Wi-Fi and keep a watch over our child.
This hospital stay made me reflect on the many parallels between the hospital and hospitality industries – both in the business of taking care of people. Associating healthcare with hospitality may appear mismatched at first glance, but shouldn’t making patients – and their loved ones – more comfortable a priority for both?
There are many compelling reasons for the highly competitive healthcare sector to focus more on hospitality. A patient-centric environment lowers infection rates and fosters quicker recovery, and when anxiety levels are down it paves the opportunity for higher patient satisfaction and customer retention. In the US, many hospitals have brought on hotel executives from the likes of Ritz-Carlton and Marriott as the antidote for happy patients.
However, hospitals should do more than follow the hospitality sector’s lead in its client-centric approach; they should also look to successful hotels for lessons on how to keep employees motivated. Like the frontline staff of any hotel, nurses are the gatekeepers of any hospital and set the tone for the patient experience.
And with medical tourism becoming a huge business these days, more developments that combine healthcare with hotels, such as the One Farrer integrated facility or Six Senses appointing specialist doctors to its integrated wellness programmes, are likely to increase. All the more reason for to work towards a healthy hospital and hospitality symbiosis.