by Susie Ellis, SpaFinder Insider
During my recent trip to San Antonio as part of the Medical Tourism Research conference, we had the opportunity to tour the brand new Methodist Stone Oak Hospital
that had opened Spring 2009. It has been dubbed by many (and by the hospital itself) as the “hospital of the future.” While it is tempting sometimes to skip conference outings, I am very aware that it was my previous hospital tours in the Philippines and in Bangkok that opened my eyes to new ways to think about spa, medicine and tourism.
So onto the bus I went. As we drove up to the front of the hospital I couldn’t help but notice that it looked pretty much like any regular hospital (albeit slightly sexier and with newer construction). However things changed quickly from there. We were dropped off in a circular drive and had there been a valet to open the door and ask about luggage, I might have thought I was entering a hotel. The lobby did feel more hotel-like than hospital. There were huge ceilings with windows top to bottom. It was light, with attractive lounge areas that were tastefully and expensively appointed and straight ahead of me two concierge areas. Also, some nice art. Our group was greeted by friendly staff members who gave us an overview and answered some of our questions. Then they divided us into smaller groups for a tour of the hospital.
Here are some of the things that I found particularly unique or interesting. At the end of this post I will tell you the one thing that in my opinion was the main reason this was a hospital of the future – their USP (unique selling point). You may be surprised.
- The hospital was just 9 months old and currently already at 100% capacity. This place is popular!
- It didn’t seem busy at all.
- Their CEO, who greeted us explained that, “their goal was to not make health care a hassle.”
- They are as much as possible a green facility.
- Their goal is to provide a true healing environment.
- 4 expansions are planned. Next phase will have woman’s services including aesthetic and spa.
- Security is taken seriously. They attract VIP’s.
- Almost no wait for check in.
- Patients don’t wander down halls aimlessly. They are always accompanied.
- A point of pride – very short waiting periods in their emergency room. In fact the wait time is noted on their website and on a roadside bulletin board. (see photo)
- You can check in bedside.
- Rooms are spacious, home-like, bathrooms larger, beds have thick and expensive mattresses.
- Wifi throughout hospital.
- Computers in each room for doctors and nursing staff to access patient records and to input information.
- They have the latest technical equipment including electronic record keeping, video monitoring for all surgery, a planned daVinci Robotic Surgical System where a surgeon can operate sitting at a console away from the patient away.
- Each new mother upon leaving receives a video of her special birthing day all put to music.
- Nurses carry cell phones so that their patients can reach them at any time.
- Cabinets of supplies are accessed by fingerprint ID’s and when a staff member takes something off the shelf or out of the supply cabinet, it is automatically recorded and charged to the appropriate patient. (Sort of like the mini bar system in hotel rooms.)
- Hiring policies include an elaborate interview and selection process for all staff. It includes psychological testing and peer interviews.The key trait? Flexibility. As a hospital of the future, things change quickly and so they want all staff to be able to be cool with that. No dogmatic or argumentative types.
- They used a hospitality training company to train their staff (instead of having training from the medical side.)
- Attracting wealthy medical tourists from Mexico to San Antonio has everything to do with shopping- and in particular cowboy boots! Fashion shows are a successful recruitment tool. Who knew?
- Companions and friends are put in a hotel – the location of which is all about proximity to the good shopping malls.
- The head of international patients mentioned to me that in addition to shopping options, they are going to be making a list of great spas in the area.
Final Thoughts The hospital was impressive for many reasons but it wasn’t the physical aspects that impressed me the most. Rather, it was the kindness, caring and even lighthearted atmosphere that was created by the people who worked there. In my opinion their greatest move was to carefully select staff with exactly the qualities they wanted – flexibility, likability, caring and nurturing. This hospital had the luxury to be selective because so many people want to work there. What’s the future for this hospital-of-the-future? Apparently spa, aesthetic services and complimentary and alternative medicine are on the drawing board for the next phase. I hope they continue the same hiring and training criteria. In addition I hope they engage a seasoned spa consultant who will assist them in creating the kind of atmosphere that will make their healing environment even more so. It is about hardware and software – and in particular the software is what sets this hospital apart. If I lived in San Antonio, I would have them put me on the waiting list. ** Follow me on Twitter http://twitter.com/susieellis ** If you wish to be put on a list that automatically sends my blog posts to your email, just let firstname.lastname@example.org know and she will add you to that list. Thanks so much! ** To reference or re post any content please add website link in the text to this blog post or to http://www.spafinder.com/
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