Patient satisfaction is increasingly tied to healthcare reimbursement, and it can make all the difference in a competitive marketplace. That’s why it makes sense that Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas hired someone with a background in hotel management to run its neurophysiology unit.

Amy Reynolds has been at Houston Methodist for nearly seven years now. The department has more than doubled in size, from 11 to 24 staff members.

Patient satisfaction reports and scores are an important part of her department’s success, but it wasn’t her primary focus when she arrived. She first had to lay a foundation for improved patient care and job satisfaction among the staff.

“When I took on the department we began working on patient care and equipment upgrades,” she told us in a recent interview. “We needed to upgrade dated equipment. We were using hard data lines on our bedside monitors, and we didn’t have Wi-Fi bridges. That was very difficult when you were in a patient isolation room trying to find a port in order to download studies. We didn’t use trip-no-more mats over the gray cords to make sure that we had good connections and nobody’s tripping over them. We did an awful lot, starting from the equipment to the processes that we use to get to where we are now.”

Having happier techs who know they can give their patients the clinical care they deserve has enabled Reynolds to have them also focus on going the extra mile in terms of patients’ comfort and well-being. Many of the systems that she and her team have implemented come directly from lessons learned in the hotel industry.

  1. Individual sized take-home bottles of collodion remover

“We came up with the two-ounce plastic bottles that we put collodion remover in for patients to take home,” she said. “That goes back to my days when I was in hotel management, before I got into healthcare. One of the things we always offered our guests were individual-sized products.”

2. Hair braiding

“We’ve been hair braiding for a few years now,” she said. “We have purchased ventilated [one-time use] brushes to separate their hair, if it’s long enough, and braid. It’s so much more convenient for patients and they really do appreciate it, especially when they realize that we have to remove collodion from their hair.”

3. Focus on continuity of care

“Our staff communicate with each other when there are special circumstances to ensure patient needs are met across the various shifts the EEG techs cover,” Reynolds said. “Some patients may have extra oily heads, may frequently pull off their leads, etc. In such circumstances, we take extra care to ensure patient needs are met.”

Reynolds is not the only one in healthcare pulling from the hotel industry to improve patient satisfaction. It’s a trend that has been growing over the last decade or more.

“We believe that hospitals can and should leverage the successful advances within the hotel industry to improve patient satisfaction, without having to repeat identical research or market experimentation,” wrote the authors of this 2014 paper, published in the journal Surgical Neurology International.

After surveying the hotel industry for similarities to the way they ran their hospital, these authors found distinct points of patient care where hospitality practices can be implemented easily.

For example, sending out a “What to Expect” letter before an appointment or hospital admission and using the AIDET system of patient communication with each and every patient.

While the authors focus primarily on patient satisfaction, they also emphasize that it is just one aspect of patient care. The first priority is patient health.

Reynolds also holds this same perspective and depends heavily on the expertise of her techs when looking to improve the department.

“I’m not a tech, but I have a counterpart who is very good at what she does as our lead tech,” she says. “I can get around the red tape, but she has the bulk of what’s going on on the clinical side. It’s evolved over time, not just because of my ideas but the unique suggestions that these amazing team members have had. I’m very proud of the work that they’ve done.”

Special thanks to Amy Reynolds, MBA, Manager for Neurophysiology, Houston Methodist Hospital, Houston, Texas. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.