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Hospitality Toolkit for Hospitals and Care Facilities

A set of tools synthesize strategies from hospitality to improve care of the living and dying in hospitals and elsewhere.

Photo of Justin Sanders
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Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine the end-of-life experience?

A toolkit supports implementation of design and service strategies from the hospitality industry to enhance the care of those who are living with or dying from serious illness. Hospital administrators study administration. Physicians study medicine. Those in hospitality study and understand the service industry, in particular the ways that it can improve the human experience. Tools that synthesize these strategies for incorporation by healthcare facilities will improve the care of the dying.

If there is one industry that might serve more individuals than healthcare facilities, it is the hospitality industry. And yet the strategies that drive success in this industry are all too commonly ignored in the care of those who are sick. And yet it's unreasonable to expect that the healthcare industry understand or incorporate these strategies in planning for care in hospitals and other care facilities. The experience of hospitalization is characterized by anxiety, stress, and fatigue but we can imagine a way in which the environment contributes to healing and augments the therapies we employ to make someone better. This is even more important for those who are dying.

Bringing together leaders in both industries will help us imagine a better future for healthcare, one in which design informs and improves healthcare services to drive facilitate better patient and family experiences and outcomes near the end of life.

Imagine a toolkit that hospital administrators and staff can employ to implement economical and efficient design and service solutions that improve the experience of both living with and dying from serious illness. It might include tools, training, and system innovations that positive shape the care of those who need it most, and re-dignify the experience of dying.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Plan a half day meeting with local hospitality leaders and leaders in one healthcare facility to brainstorm ideas about ways to improve care of the dying through simple design and service strategies. Establish a quality improvement process to implement one or more small ideas.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

It would be helpful to hear from others what they love about being served by the hospitality industry that they feel is missing in healthcare, and yet could have a role in the care of the seriously ill.

Tell us about your work experience:

I'm a family and palliative care physician, a former contemporary art gallerist, waiter and son of a hotelier. I've studied medical anthropology, traveled the world, and work in health systems innovation.

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1 comment

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Photo of Ken Rosenfeld

Love the idea, Justin.  I know that some elements of this concept (focus on food quality, valet parking, cable tv, etc) became popularized in the 1980s and 1990s, but we still have a ton to do in terms of infusing ill individuals' care with kindness and service.  There is another submission (by Harvey) about an intervention to improve "care tenor" in hospitals -- seems like there's potentially a good amount of overlap.