‘Luxury Amenities Draw Patients’

Posted on January 24, 2011

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In yet a more emphatic statement on healthcare design’s response to customer (patient) demands, I submit the St. Petersburg Times from earlier this week: “Some Hospitals Invest in Luxury Amenities To Draw Patients.”

This article is a complement to my previous post from the patient perspective. 

For me, the major takeaways from the article:

  • The humanity behind the treatment process, empathy in treating a patient as a person first, cannot be underestimated.  Relevant quote:  “When you come into a clinic, most of the time you feel like an animal.”
  • Hospitals trending more toward hospitality environments (hotels, spas, restaurants) need not be embarrassed if that is sought by your patient population and approved by your Board.  Relevant quote:  “New research is finding that amenities — from friendly employees and soothing colors to big-screen TVs and gardens — matter deeply to consumers deciding where to seek hospital care.”
  • Competition for patients is a very public, life-and-death issue for hospitals, and they should be willing to do whatever it takes to stay relevant to their communities.  Relevant quote:  “At local hospitals, where upgrades mostly have accompanied planned renovations and older corridors remain as bland as ever, officials say the changes are less about luxury than rethinking patient care in an era when consumers have more choices and are demanding better.”
  • It is not clear from the patient perspective how to select care providers based on quality, yet, and therefore choosing a hospital based on comfort may be the only rational way to “shop” for care.  Relevant quote:  “…Patients care more about extras than quality of care — perhaps because it’s a lot easier to judge one’s surroundings than it is to know how good the medicine is.”

The role of luxury treatment environments is most definitely debatable as the article suggests.  For me, the issue is that luxury can be used as a subterfuge to mask subpar care; it would be an elaborate ruse, yet possible. Designers have a duty to balance the clinical spaces required for top-notch medical care, and provide the patient spaces required for comfortable recovery.  It is clear both spaces facilitate healing, and therefore have value. The key?  Seek an appropriate balance, or like any doctor or mother might say, everything in moderation.

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