From Hotel to Hospital - Hospitality Sets the Standard

By Maggie Cunningham

As clinicians, we go to work every day to provide quality medical care to our patients. And while medical care will always be our number one concern, hospitality is now the second-most important standard in healthcare. The world is evolving, and with it, our hospitals. Many medical facilities are beginning to resemble hotels in varying degrees.

On the surface, and from a business standpoint, it seems simple. Hotel-like amenities can improve health outcomes by reducing stress and cutting down on the transfer of diseases by using private rooms. This patient-centered environment helps patients focus on getting better, which leads to decreased lengths-of-stay and readmissions.

But that's the big picture. What does "hotel-like amenities" mean for patients, and what does it mean for doctors, nurses and other clinicians? For those on the front lines it means placing emphasis on hospitality in our hospitals.

We all know that bedside manners refer to the way clinicians treat their patients. The best way to understand bedside manner is to remember a saying you probably heard from a parent or teacher when you were growing up: "Do unto others as you would want others to do unto you." Truth is, nurses can make or break a patient experience. They can be sympathetic and personal with a kind disposition, or they can show a lack of interest and be cold and brash.

When interacting with our patients, caregivers should always try to do the following:

  • Show compassion - speak kindly, be patient and empathetic
  • Be honest - patients have the right to know the truth about their health
  • Show respect - Be polite and courteous in what you say and how you say it
  • Use names - Introduce yourself and address the patient by name
  • Pay attention - It is easy to get caught up in tasks, patients can sense your lack of focus
  • Be clear - Use language that your patients can understand without being condescending
  • Be mindful of your posture - make eye contact, don't cross your arms etc. Your patients will feed off of and mimic your body language
  • Be conversational - avoid interrupting the patient and take cues from their body language
  • Don't be judgmental - You are there to care for them medically, regardless of the cause 

And lastly,

  • Take your time - patients need to be heard, understood and reassured. Offer to open the blinds, talk to them about things other than their illness, clean their tables, and supply them with fresh linens and water. Bringing comfort to their rooms is the best way to provide reassurance to the patient without saying a word.  



When you demonstrate exceptional interpersonal skills you make it easier for patients to trust you and your medical judgment. It also makes you feel better about the care you are providing.

This sense of hospitality is really nothing new. It is simply being revitalized and packaged as "hotel-like" amenities. While the role of nurses and clinicians is evolving, the basis of this concept is at the heart of the profession. The Code of Ethics for Nurses has long guided nurses in their interactions with patients. As you begin to see and hear of hospitals with car or spa services, remember also the importance of every patient interaction you have during your day. This is when you will make the biggest impression.