Medicine is constantly evolving in terms of techniques, methodologies, and factors driving healthcare continuity. The concept of hospitalization changes with time. Thus, it is constantly progressing in offering hospitalization services and ensuring the well-being of patients. In view of this, hospitals began to create the finest patient care methods, even in matters that do not fall within the purely medical treatment framework. They expanded and developed the concepts of patient service and room equipment, to meet patient’s comfort and requirements during the treatment period. Over time, we have witnessed a shift in services and a change in equipment, some previously deemed unnecessary in hospitals. Several studies showed over time that it is an integral part of the hospitalization process and patient satisfaction.
Hospitality schools began to ask their students a new question, to be addressed in a detailed and purposeful manner: in which sectors can hospitality be applied other than hotels, restaurants, ceremonial receptions, and tourism institutions? The correct answer to this question would be: in hospitals, one of the largest sectors today requiring hospitality services besides hotels and tourism institutions, and relying on equipment that would guarantee patient satisfaction throughout their stay at the hospital, considered a place of recovery that provides personal welfare and comfort, and not limited to the treatment of ailments associated with pain, suffering, and frustration.
Hospitality from the Hotel to the Hospital
Some luxuries are found in these rooms, such as marble bathtubs and helpers. The demand on these rooms has been increasing owing to these additional services despite the elevated rates per night. Courtney Suess-Raesinafchi, the Lead Researcher and Assistant Professor at Boston University School of Hospitality Administration, said: “In the past, as was the norm, the hospitality industry focused on restaurants, lodging, or hotels. Nowadays, I believe hospitals focus more and more on patient satisfaction, and this transformed hospitals into a more customer-centric model. This big change brought a lot of attention to the physical surroundings, and services at hospitals.”
The study surveyed about 400 people via the Internet, who have stayed in hospitals for six months prior to the survey. The participants in the study examined 40 template designs that were specially prepared for hospital rooms, and each design contained different sets of hotel supplies. Both Courtney Suess-Raesinafchi and McCarrand Moody, the co-researcher and assistant professor in the Department of Hospitality Marketing focused on the amenities that were most liked by the patients by examining eighteen factors, including interior design, healthcare service, and dietary choices. For instance, one of the sampled rooms contains luxurious bed sheets, a kitchenette in the corner of the room, as well as a soft, embellished bathrobe hanging on the bathroom door. Another type of rooms contains a simple bed but the walls are decorated with art drawings, and there is also a member of the health care staff who is trained to provide hospitality service properly. All these facilities are labeled for easy identification. The participants rated the rooms to see which one they would choose if they had to stay in the hospital in the future. The researchers also analyzed the results to see which amenities had the largest share of votes.
Topping this list are the interior design, service teams, and equipment. The participants preferred hospital rooms with a cutting-edge design and modern flair, such as those with walls painted in a different color, or thin wooden floors. The evaluation also included the presence of a team trained in hospitality in the rooms as a requirement in this list. The participants were also interested in the available technology, such as high-quality flat-screen television. Many patients have come to consider that these means of entertainment are no longer nonessential luxuries, but are rather necessary for entertaining the patients and alleviating their pain on the one hand, and giving them more room for hope when they are in an unstable and unhealthy psychological condition, on the other hand.
A New Concept of Hospitalization
At first glance, some may find it difficult to imagine the relationship between healthcare and design. However, studies indicate in this context that healthcare, which has always relied on the competence of doctors and nursing staff, has begun today to adopt new concepts and different methods in approaching the matter and caring for patient satisfaction. The studies have built on a body of research that has shown that #HOSPOTEL rooms with trained hospitality staff can actually improve patient outcomes.
Design choices such as large sunny windows, landscapes or garden views, or even artistic nature scenes, have been shown to help reduce patient stress and pain, according to the historical review of 2008 by Dr. Roger Ulrich – Professor of Architecture at the Center for healthcare Architecture, Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden – and his colleagues. According to the study, doctors report that patients who stayed in the rooms most exposed to sunlight showed less pain and 20% less consumption of analgesics, compared to patients who stayed in rooms that were not sunny.
Researchers asked patients involved in the study about the additional fees they were willing to pay for a room fitted with amenities of luxury hotels, rather than pay for a regular room. On average, they were willing to pay 38% more than usual spending. This proves, beyond any doubt, the importance of designs and hotel services in hospitals for patients, since these designs, equipment, and services mean for them a further and speedy recovery.
The data analysis also showed a discrepancy between two groups of participants, the “least healthy” group and the “healthiest” group. The “least healthy” participants, who spent more time in the hospital and whose physical and mental health were rated lower than that of the “healthiest” group, showed that they were willing to pay 44% more for a #HOSPOTEL room. Meanwhile, the “healthiest” group was only willing to pay 31% more.
The study tackled the importance of food preparation at hospitals. It has evolved from being a mere routine to a major factor in hospital services. It requires preparation at two levels: first, wider diversity, better quality, and more suitability for patients’ health; second, more variety in terms of the type and timing of meals that definitely align with the patient’s health conditions. In addition to this, patient’s visitors who are staying for a long time may benefit from some hotel amenities, such as a kitchenette equipped with a refrigerator, a coffee maker, and other requirements.
A Leap into the Future
The conducted research resulted in discovering another factor that plays a pivotal part: it’s the smell of medical formulas and sterilizers in hospitals. Hospital designers were particularly interested in this matter and its role in offering a hotel-like stay at hospitals. This required the adoption of modified formulas and the diffusion of scents that do not make visitors nor residents feel like they are in a place for treatment, but rather feel like they are just recovering at a hotel. This factor has also shown to have a psychological impact on the patient’s health and satisfaction.
In this regard, Mooney wrote an e-mail that included the following: “Most of us have had to visit hospitals before. We have also had to stare at the cold, dreary walls and decor, and endure the smell of medical formulas, besides waiting impatiently to hear what the doctor had to say. It is no secret that these times are really stressful for both patients and their families.” He added: “More and more hospitals are beginning to operate and look like hotels. It is not limited to the design; it goes beyond it to the services provided. Patient satisfaction scores have also increased, as well as their and their families’ perceptions of amenities within hospitals.”
Boston University conducted a scientific survey on patients. It revealed that they focus on and care about amenities, food, and room designs, as much as they care about the reputation of the treating physician or traditional hospital services. The Boston University study shows that some of these changes will be easy to implement on a larger scale, such as changing hospitals lighting, painting the walls, or adding artistic drawings. These changes will have a positive impact and will lead to increased financial returns, improving the interior design of rooms, gaining patient satisfaction, and even improving their health. The study adds that it can be confirmed without hesitation that there is a great opportunity for hospitality. We would actually like to investigate the impact of hospitality and welfare on the physical, mental, psychological, and social aspects of patients and their families. After conducting this research, it became clear to us that this is true. The study examined: “Isn’t the purpose of hospitals to provide recovery and promote comfort and health with the best service for all?” This has actually been confirmed by the study.
Today, we find this model of premium hospitalization spreading and expanding gradually around the world. Hospitals began to turn successively into #HOSPOTELS in terms of design, external environment, equipment, and internal service. In parallel, this radical transformation led to achieving two main things: first, greater patient satisfaction and comfort, and better health outcomes; second, more profit for hospitals despite the higher investment made to achieve this qualitative leap. This heralds a brighter future in the world of hospitalization worldwide.