Should hospitals offer hotel-like services?

Henry Ford Hospital in Bloomfield, MI offers room service, flat screen TVs and other hotel-style amenities. The primary goal is to attract well-insured commercial patients, but there’s also an underlying claim that care is enhanced as well.

FierceHealthcare’s article on the subject also offers an opposing view from NYU hospital, who pooh-poohed the idea. The NYU exec didn’t objective to being treated nicely and receiving amenities, but said people get confused about what patient centered care is, thinking it’s about being nice and acting like a hospital is a hotel. “That won’t achieve more positive healthcare outcomes or safety.”

It’s an interesting contention but I wouldn’t be so quick to dis the Henry Ford approach. My hypothesis is that high service levels overall may very well contribute to healing. It may also bring up the level of professionalism of the rest of the staff, give patients a more positive outlook, and reduce stress.

On the point about being nice, I’d really have to disagree with the NYU approach. It’s off-putting in any environment when the staff (or worse, senior management) thinks it’s ok not to be nice. Being nice is part of improving communications and will get the patient to relax and open up in conversation. That should help improve outcomes and safety.

The move toward hotel-like services in hospitals reminds me of when airports shifted from institutional food services to name brand restaurant chains. Remember that? No it didn’t necessarily make the planes take off and land on time, but it didn’t hurt either.

October 31, 2012

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