HKS: How About Guest-Focused Care?
We all know the stories from our own personal experiences: friends and families who have received the best and worst of healthcare delivery. The wait times were long. The staff was rude. The patient near us went nuts—aggravating well-intentioned caregivers while taking it out on those who don’t deserve it.
The problem isn’t the people. We all know many dedicated and passionate caregivers who go above and beyond the call of duty. The problem is not our desire to build and design better healthcare facilities with improvements in Lean, Six Sigma, or patient safety. All are worthwhile and important efforts.
The problem is that all medical facilities are, at their core, the same: They are built to process patients. Not unlike a manufacturing plant making widgets, the system is set up with the goal of getting you in and getting you out, which often results in a less-than-personal experience as you interact with caregivers along the way. What is lost is the human touch.
There is a simple, but powerful solution—and we can look to the hospitality industry for the inspiration.
When it comes to healthcare, so that we may once again humanize the experience, we should change the social contract. Rather than patients to being processed, we should see it as guests requiring (health)care—or “guest-focused care.”
Studies have shown that patients with less stress can heal up to 40% quicker. Other studies have shown that one of the most frustrating things in healthcare almost always ties back to human experiences creating stressful situations. Hotels have mastered the art of relieving stress, as they know you won’t come back if they do anything but that.
This subtle shift in perspective (not about cost, but mindset) opens many new possibilities, such as how you interact with patients, how you redesign a Lean process, or how you shift metrics and build facilities.
Integrating hospitality into healthcare is not in itself a new idea; in fact, it is ancient. Both “hospitality” and “hospitals” are derived from the same Latin origins: The word “hospital” comes from the Latin hospes, signifying a stranger or foreigner, hence a guest. Another noun derived from this, hospitium, came to signify hospitality; that is the relation between guest and shelterer, hospitality, friendliness, hospitable reception.
So it is only fitting that we look for opportunities to bring them back together, to design spaces that help reduce stress, to craft an environment of care where we welcome consumers as guests in need of care. If we re-evaluate our workflow process, metrics, and spaces from this slightly shifting point of view, we can redefine healthcare in a way that focuses on the human experience and those touch points where our consumers experience our facilities.