GreyMatters 2017


Healthcare and Hospitality Organizations Team Up to Provide Patient Housing Options

hotelLast month, we looked at ways that healthcare organizations are working on transportation options to improve patient attendance for non-emergency appointments. This month, we will look at how healthcare organizations are working with hospitality organizations to improve patient experience with on-campus or nearby housing options for patients and their families.

Here are some examples:

  • NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. The Big Apple is known for its pricey hotel accommodations—a factor that can make it difficult for patients and their families to find nearby lodging when traveling to the city for health care. In addition, the area around hospitals often does not offer many hotel options. The Edge Hotel, a property of the Edge Property Group, opened a 54-room hotel about a block away from NYP in 2015. Since its opening, the hotel has maintained an 80%-plus occupancy rate, and 90% of its guests are connected to the hospital in some way: patients, families, prospective medical students, visiting professors and pharmaceutical sales representatives.
  • Cleveland Clinic. In May of last year, the Clinic opened the Holiday Inn Cleveland Clinic on its property to replace an outdated guesthouse that had been demolished for other construction. The 276-room hotel has put in many accommodations for patients, such as restaurant tables of varying heights that work for people in wheelchairs, and extra electrical outlets in hotel rooms for medical equipment. In 2016, about 60% of the hotel’s guests were either patients or family members of patients.
  • Texas Medical Center, Houston, TX. While there are more moderately-priced accommodations located nearby, the InterContinental Houston Medical Center luxury hotel is currently under construction across the street from the medical center. The Texas Medical Center experiences a lot of medical tourists, in part due to world-class facilities located there, such as the MD Anderson Cancer Center, so the developer, Medistar, believes adding a brand such as InterContinental, which has a unique perception overseas, is a sound choice. However, Medistar is not just looking at luxury accommodations—a 375-unit apartment building is also under construction for patients who will need long-term treatment (such as chemotherapy). Rooms, from studio size to three bedrooms, will be available for monthly rental, and will include washers and dryers.

While millions of dollars are being invested in these housing options, it makes financial sense for hospitals to find alternatives to in-patient treatment. Says John T. Murphy, CEO of Murphy Development Group that oversaw the construction of the Cleveland Clinic Holiday Inn, “For hospitals, the economics to get patients out from under their roofs is compelling. Housing some patients can cost up to $2,500 a night; the Cleveland’s new Holiday Inn is around $250. And patients are often more comfortable outside a hospital’s walls, too.”

What, if anything, is your organization doing to improve accommodations for patients and family?

Better Customer Experience Across Multiple Channels

customersMost organizations know that it’s no longer “customer service”—it’s “customer experience.” With the advent of multiple channels to reach and engage with customers, it has become imperative for organizations to develop and implement a seamless customer experience (CX) across all those channels.

How do you develop consistent, excellent customer experience? Here are some tips:

  • Customers first. After all, if it weren’t for your customers, you wouldn’t be in business. By keeping the needs of your customers as a core component of your CX strategy, you will be better able to show your customers that you value them.
  • CX Mission Statement. The best way to stick with your business objectives is to write them down. Your statement should be actionable, measurable and trainable. It should guide employees to the standard for what must be delivered at every touch point. To help you craft your statement, think about these things:
    • Are we delivering outstanding value to our customers?
    • Are we doing right by our customers?
    • Are we making it easy for customers to do business with us?
  • If you promise it, you must deliver it. Even though each channel has its own unique best practices, your mission statement should be part and parcel of your strategy for each channel. The underlying message delivered by each channel should be consistent with the mission statement and brand promise.
  • Consistency is key. Social media may look different from email, but what you do on each channel must appear to be connected and consistent.
  • Transparency is a must. The best CX includes the following across all channels:
    • Hours of operation
    • Contact information
    • Timely responses that are personalized, not canned
    • Taking responsibility for errors and acknowledging them

Has your organization reviewed its customer experience strategy lately? Are you looking at touch points?

mHealth + Gamification To Battle Liver Disease

triviaIn May of 2016, the El Paso Times published a series of articles detailing the extent of liver disease in the El Paso-area Hispanic population. This led The Hospitals of Providence, an El Paso-area health system to collaborate with the newspaper and a gamification software company to develop an online trivia game focused on liver disease.

The newspaper series revealed that more Hispanics in the El Paso area died each year from liver disease than from lung or breast cancer. It also found that the county’s death rate from liver disease was twice as high as the state average in 2013. As liver disease is often preventable, hospital officials decided to follow the lead of other providers who have used online tools and interactive games to target specific populations to provide information about disease prevention.

An online trivia game on liver health topics was developed. It includes educational videos, links to a podcast and infographics on liver disease. As of early January, the game has been played more than 3,000 times on mobile devices and computers. 

The gamification software company, OfferCraft, plans to develop more mHealth games in the future. Aron Ezra, CEO of OfferCraft, says, “While this game deals with liver disease, in the future we aim to release new games to provide important information about many other diseases. Making education about a tough subject less intimidating and more memorable can help improve health and save lives.”

What is your organization doing towards population health efforts? Do you have a gamification story to share?

Can Wearables Indicate Impending Illness?

wearablesBy closely tracking data patterns from wearable devices, it may be possible to detect when a person is getting sick, according to new research from PLOS Biology.

The research team, led by geneticist Dr. Michael Snyder at Stanford University, looked at 2 billion measurements taken from 60 study participants. The measurements included weight, heart rate, skin temperature, sleep, blood oxygen levels, physical activity, caloric burn and exposure to gamma rays and x-rays, and were measured by one or more of seven commercially-available activity trackers. Baseline data for each participant was established at the beginning of the study. The researchers found that data patterns deviated from the established norm for each participant in situations such as changes in environmental conditions (flying in an airplane, etc.), illness or other factors affecting health.

Specific health observations that were detected by the wearables:

  • Onset of Lyme disease and inflammation
  • Physiological differences between insulin-sensitive and insulin-resistant individuals, which may help to identify those at risk for type 2 diabetes

The researchers say, “Overall, these results indicate that portable biosensors provide useful information for monitoring personal activities and physiology and are likely to play an important role in managing health and enabling affordable health care access to groups traditionally limited by socioeconomic class or remote geography.”

Has your organization looked at using wearables to track patient health status?

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