The Problematic Irony of Hospitals Lacking in Hospitality
The ironic quandary of hospitals lacking in providing adequate hospitality is a vital problem that all healthcare facilities should alleviate, both to improve the patients’ environment and improve medical outcomes. Hospitals should instill a comprehensive approach that includes the patient and family alike within a protocol that allows them to feel less stressed and promote positive patient health outcomes.
Having reliable hospital employees is parallel to the significant impact that hotel employees have on a guest’s stay. Throughout a patient’s visit to the hospital, or any healthcare facility for that matter, every interaction that the patient and family members endure with a staff member has the ability to be a life-altering interaction and positively change the course of the patient’s stay. Gerard van Grinsven, president and CEO of Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital in West Bloomfield, Michigan, described patient satisfaction as “a result of a philosophy that is embedded in the culture—a philosophy that also extends to employee retention and growth” . Therefore, hospitals must strive to hire a workforce of doctors, nurses, and other facilitators of patient care that align with their culture’s goals. Hospitals should consider the use of the Enneagram, a model of nine different personality traits that can be used as a motivational tool to recruit and retain employees . Once the hospital’s hiring team is able to recognize a potential employee’s Enneagram type, they can extensively analyze how this employee will work by understanding their tendencies. For example, employees who are “Ones” are usually goal-oriented instead of process-oriented and need clear communication for their role expectations, indicating that they would feel comfortable in “Total Quality Management Environments” . Hence, they may gravitate towards roles with a central control aspect. The ability for hospitals to determine which employees should be in more control-centered leadership positions enables them to recruit the proper amount of employees they need for control-centered roles, thereby improving predictions of employee success and further increasing the ability for employee retention to occur, since those employees will be successful and personally satisfied in those roles.
An integral part of establishing a powerful workforce includes strong communication channels within the organization. In a hospital, there are many tiers and departments that have ties to patients and their families. Typically, there are healthcare teams from multiple departments working together to aid the patient back to good health as well as social workers, environmental workers, food service workers, and administrative employees. A multi-level hierarchy of employees necessitates employees understanding their roles and responsibilities and how they uniquely fit into the overall purpose of the organization . For instance, nurses must understand their specific duties in aiding the patient and communicate other duties that need to be fulfilled to the correct department. An overrun and frustrated staff diminishes the hospital’s ability to leave patients with a good experience and, therefore, prompt and successful medical outcomes.
The Ritz-Carlton hotel chain implements the phrase “ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen” to demonstrate how highly they treat their employees, which they hope will transfer to the same level of service and respect while interacting with guests. In a hospital setting, support staff generally spend more time with patients and families than the clinical staff, indicating how vital it is for patients and families to have a good experience with the support staff . The HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) is the first national, government-mandated survey that displays a patient's opinions and criticisms of hospital care. The survey contains a total of 29 questions, in which 19 of them ask about the patient’s communication experiences with the various staff members that they interacted with during their visit . The widespread installation of hospitable actions has the power to substantially increase hospitals’ HCAHPS ratings, ultimately promoting improvements in the medical outcomes of patients, since increased, effective communication between patients and providers likely puts patients more at ease, enabling them to completely focus on improving their health and not on any external factors.
Throughout a patient’s stay at the hospital, they, along with family members, are exposed to many stressful situations pertaining to medical decisions. Stress can be defined as “any intrinsic or extrinsic stimulus that evokes a biological response” . Chronic stress has detrimental effects on the nervous, endocrine, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal systems . Hospitals should strive to eliminate any more external stressors to patients and family members, enabling them to completely divert their time and attention to the patient’s needs. Prominent patient and caregiver stressors include pain-management interventions relating to specific diagnoses, quality of sleep, patient-provider communication, and having family members included in medical care plan discussions . Therefore, the patient can feel less stressed and anxious and focus their mental energy on improving their medical health, while simultaneously allowing the hospital to perpetuate an improvement in overall quality of care.
The creation of a powerful workforce has the ability to drastically improve the lives of patients and caregivers. As we reevaluate our modern definition of healthcare, the notion of mitigating hospitals lacking hospitality is an integral part of improving patient experiences, and, ultimately, medical outcomes.
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