Concierge services. Wi-Fi connections. Art on the walls. Staid is out, amenities are in, as hospitals try to stand out from the crowd. Century City Doctors Hospital in Los Angeles extols its menu, created by celeb chef Wolfgang Puck, and the flat-screen TVs in all rooms. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York has an afternoon tea service. And M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston offers patients field trips to local museums and attractions.
The healthcare industry needs to understand and appreciate "what makes our customers tick," says Gerard van Grinsven, CEO of Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, slated to open next spring in the upscale Detroit suburb. ("Customers" rather than "patients" comes naturally to van Grinsven, a former vice president of the Ritz-Carlton chain.)
What's cooking? The new hospital will grow some of its own produce; a wellness center, walking path, cooking classes, and shops are intended to make it more of a community draw. All rooms will have mini refrigerators, and in-hospital lodging for families will be free.
None of this should come as a surprise, says Rick Wade, a senior vice president of the American Hospital Association. Letting patients maintain their Facebook pages or order their favorite comfort food while they're laid up shows that a hospital cares about creature comforts. And that just might increase market share.