The hospital as hotel -- Affordable Care Act drives new medical-center amenities

2013-07-13T22:00:00Z 2013-12-17T11:35:31Z The hospital as hotel -- Affordable Care Act drives new medical-center amenitiesMICHAEL BURKE Journal Times

RACINE — Room service and valet parking — two features one would expect from a hotel — have come to Wheaton Franciscan-All Saints hospital.

The two features are helping to bolster patient satisfaction, which has always been the goal. But a new emphasis on health care satisfaction is at least partly inspired by the new national health care law, which partially ties patient satisfaction to what hospitals get paid.

Since last October, a hospital can earn a 1 percent bonus, or be penalized up to that amount with Medicare and Medicaid patients, based partly on patient satisfaction surveys. By fiscal year 2017 that amount climbs to 2 percent.

Patient satisfaction surveys will comprise 30 percent of those bonuses or penalties, said Julie Becker, All Saints vice president for patient and family experience.

“It’s a (government) withhold up front, and we have to try to earn it back,” Becker said. Under the Affordable Care Act, every 12 months, the government will settle Medicare and Medicaid accounts with hospitals, depending how they’ve done on various measures.

Like many other hospitals across the nation, All Saints, 3801 Spring St., has been making changes designed to improve patient satisfaction ratings. All Saints has added free valet parking, brought in a new customer service program and on April 2 started “At Your Request Room Service Dining.”

Marianne Koch, All Saints director for food and valet services, explained how patient mealtimes worked at All Saints before and since the inception of Room Service Dining. Previously, the patient was brought a diet-specific menu and would order all three meals for the next day. Lunch and dinner each offered a couple different entree choices, she said.

“The trays would be delivered at certain times depending on what nursing unit you were on,” Koch continued. If you were a fourth-floor patient, those breakfast trays would start arriving about 7:15 a.m.

“They’re not really up and ready to eat” at that time, Koch said.

Now, with Room Service Dining, the patient gets a menu that’s been greatly expanded from before. Any time between 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., the patient calls to order anything from the menu that’s not doctor-prohibited.

All Saints promises to deliver the freshly made food within 45 minutes, and so far the average delivery time is about 33 minutes, Koch said.

Gone are the options limited by breakfast, lunch and dinner times. Koch said: “You can have whatever you want whenever you want it.”

‘Short-order kitchen’

Room Service Dining has many benefits, Koch said. “If you had a rough night, you can sleep in and not have somebody banging on your door at breakfast time.

“It’s great for (new) moms,” she added. If they’re ready for a roast beef sandwich at 2 p.m., they can have one then.

Room Service Dining was an existing program of All Saints’ food service company, Sodexo, Koch explained. Nevertheless, implementation required six months of planning, new software, installation of a new call center, more cooks and a partial kitchen revamping with more equipment.

With Room Service Dining, the kitchen operation “turns into going from making massive amounts of food to a short-order kitchen,” Koch observed.

All Saints spokeswoman Heidi Lange said she could not put a dollar figure on the investment but said it was not great, as software was to be updated regardless.

The system knows of any dietary restrictions for each patient, such as a low-salt diet, Koch explained. In the call center, a computer screen will black out any foods prohibited by a specific diet, so the call-taker would ask the patient to select something else.

“We use it as a teaching tool as well,” Koch said.

Room Service Dining is not just for patients; family members can get a guest tray for $5, and All Saints has been serving about 25 to 30 of those daily.

Service, amenities

Knowing ACA was coming, in fall 2011 All Saints brought free valet parking to the hospital campus. At the weekly cost of about $3,100 to hire Sodexo personnel, valet parking is now available at three entrances:

-- The Atrium, the gateway to orthopedics and physical rehabilitation among other areas. Valets park about 350 vehicles a week there, Koch said.

-- The Cardiovascular Institute, where valets park about 150 vehicles a week.

-- Newly added are valets at the old main entrance. So far, they park about 50 vehicles a week.

All Saints also recently added an established customer-service approach called AIDET, for “acknowledge, introduce, duration, explanation, thank you.” It plays out differently for different departments, Koch noted.

Also, in November 2011 All Saints began giving each patient an amenity bag containing hand sanitizer, a nail file, a pen and note pad for making notes on a doctor’s instructions, lip balm and a toothpick-dental floss pack.

On the second day, the patient is brought a vase and flower.

And housekeepers bring The Journal Times daily to any patient who wants it.

Asked if All Saints has finished adding patient-satisfaction features, Koch said her areas are just a small part of that answer but offered, “I would say no, because it’s a never-ending process to keep doing more and more for the patients to make it a family-friendly experience.”


Examples from the “At Your Request Room Service Dining” menu:

-- Made-to-order pasta meal.

-- Stir-fried dishes with a choice of rice or pan noodles, beef or chicken and choice of sauces.

-- Mexican dishes including tacos, enchiladas and quesadillas.

Examples from the pediatric menu:

-- Spaghetti, cheese ravioli, chicken nuggets.

-- Grilled sandwiches.

-- Peanut butter and jelly, turkey or ham sandwich.


Many U.S. hospitals use the Press Ganey survey, given to patients at random, to gauge how well they are doing in patient satisfaction against other hospitals in that database. It ranks them against other hospitals by percentile.

The various efforts to improve patient satisfaction at Wheaton Franciscan-All Saints hospital, 3801 Spring St., are working, those patient surveys from March to June show. During that time, said Marianne Koch, All Saints director of food and valet services, the hospital saw:

-- A 15 percentile point increase in overall satisfaction.

-- A 26 percentile point increase in food temperature satisfaction.

-- A 15 percentile point increase in quality of food satisfaction.

Overall, All Saints jumped by 36 percentile points in that period, All Saints spokeswoman Heidi Lange said.

Copyright 2015 Journal Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(5) Comments

  1. speaking frankly
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    speaking frankly - July 15, 2013 9:23 pm
    Agreed! I could care less about room service or Valet parking, and if I wanted a special snack, had the relatives bring it up and leave it in the frig at the nurses station. We need doctors that listen to us and understand us and have a good bedside manner. And how does one rate the prices - they still would rate poor on that with many.
  2. Django
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    Django - July 15, 2013 4:16 pm
    I recently stayed at the hospital where they were very proud of their new "room service." Trust me, bad food tastes bad no matter how you serve it. One meal out of fifteen was palatable. The head of the kitchen even agreed that their food is terrible.
  3. LoveRacine
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    LoveRacine - July 15, 2013 8:51 am
    .......and, this is just a way that additional cost will be figured in to a hospital stay.
  4. Timt49
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    Timt49 - July 14, 2013 1:00 pm
    Don't worry, those that pay cash for services are picking up the tab.
  5. LoveRacine
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    LoveRacine - July 14, 2013 9:25 am
    For me, patient satisfaction is not based on room service or valet parking. I want the best doctors, medical care and outcome.
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