That’s the way I began my presentation to the staff of the policlinic urology, gynaecology and obstetrics of a large hospital in the middle of The Netherlands: “Fortunately I find myself among hospitality experts”, I said. After that, I shared with them their experiences about hospitality, service and quality in restaurants, hotels, stores and during air travels. And I was right: everyone was a hospitality expert. Some could clearly magnify what their negative and positive experiences where. There were even experts who could indicate how the overall level of hospitality, service and quality could be improved.
That’s right, a hospital is not a hotel. But what has that to do with whether or not providing hospitality and service?
From expert to specialty
This was an exciting step in my presentation. Because hospitals are generally not known for their hospitality and service. So I asked the audience: “Suppose that you put all your hospitality knowledge into your daily professional work as front desk employee, assistant, nurse or doctor, what would change in you and in the eyes of your patients and clients?” The silence that followed was typical. Because prior to my presentation, I had received an email from my contact person, because some colleagues had said “A presentation about hospitality? We’re not a hotel?” And that’s right, a hospital is not a hotel. The other way around, it’s the same. Fortunately. But what has that to do with whether or not providing hospitality and service?
The patient as a guest
If my wife and I invite friends at our home, then we don’t think: “We’re not a restaurant!” In other words, our friends are our guests. And this applies to every visitor at any company or organization; the visitor is a guest. The person who receives them is the host or hostess. There is no exception for a hospital. Patients and their companions come to a hospital and pay for the care they expect to get. They have questions or want to have solutions for their most precious possession: their health. Guests with such personal questions must be treated in a most hospitable way with a high level of service by all employees in all departments of the hospital. I firmly believe that hospitality and service are modern medicines.
What are the benefits?
When you are hospitable and service oriented in contact with patients and their companions, they will feel more secure because of the attention they get. ‘Attention’ is the key word. By giving attention people will be more open and feel more at ease, with as result that they will tell more. In that way they provide more information that may be relevant for the treatment plan. By getting attention people will also be more flexible. A longer waiting time, for example, will be taken for granted more easily.
Service in health care?
My father has this terrible disease called COPD. His lungs function poorly, and he ingests external oxygen. A couple of times it was so critical that he had to go to the hospital with blaring sirens. During a hospital visit it became clear that he could go home only if there would be a bed placed in the living room. My father, a former Navy Marine Commando and the pride he still carries with him, made it very clear that he did not want that. One of the doctors was able to make real contact with my father. “Mr. Bosma, what do you want for yourself?” From there a pleasant conversation followed between these two men, resulting in the creative proposal of the physician to place my father for a week in a rehabilitation centre. Away from the white hospital uniforms, like the doctor said. A service-oriented approach, by thinking outside the box, by asking other questions, focusing on the individual person. Within a week my father was called the miracle with four wheels. He learned climbing the stairs with and without oxygen and walked like a young god again, on request of his supervisors with the aid of a walker. My father kept his pride, is again much more independent and more agile with the support of his four wheels.
Being hospitable and providing service in healthcare. We can do it. If we really want it.
You can do it also. Make a real step forward with the Model of Attention®. Ask for the presentation about hospitality, service and quality for your (healthcare) organization, by contacting us here.
With warm regards,
This post is also available in: Nederlands