How amenities can support strategic priorities in healthcare

by Daniel J. Kodner, CEO and Founder, HHP and Lisa Perlmutter, SVP, Healthcare, HHP

"I just want a win."

It’s a sentiment we often hear when we speak with hospital and health system CEOs. From margin pressures to employee burnout to patient experience, there’s no shortage of challenges that are, frankly, complex to solve. Wanting ways to show progress and better serve stakeholders that don’t require Herculean effort makes complete sense.

With these pressures only accelerating in the coming years, today’s C-Suite needs new ways to differentiate the healthcare experience for employees, patients and visitors. Surprisingly enough, that’s where amenities can have a big impact.

Shifting amenities from afterthought to asset

Today, the restaurants and gift shops found in hospitals are operated by the usual suspects: national brands, lackluster licensed deals, and one-off businesses that often fail to deliver compelling experiences. Meanwhile, lounge amenities for nurses and physicians provide space away from patients, but tend to lack the comforts and conveniences that would help them actually recharge.

One of the root causes is that these spaces aren't being thought of as places for innovation, let alone a means of supporting broader strategies. It's an opportunity we don't want our healthcare partners to miss, which is why we talk to them about their goals in five areas as part of our partnership. They are: employee recruitment and retention, patient and visitor satisfaction, brand positioning, financial investment and strategic initiatives. This allows us to make recommendations about the types of experiences to create and brands to bring onsite that become proof of their priorities.

Scenario 1

Let’s say your organization has a long reputation of delivering high-quality care and supporting the local community. But, your employees are burned out and a shiny new competitor is putting your loyal patient base at risk. How might retail help?

Give employees choice and convenience:

Long shifts. Short breaks. Repeat. Now imagine having a healthy fast casual restaurant right within your walls. And fridges stocked with popular menu items that can be accessed 24/7 and paid for with a simple badge swipe. Now we’re talking.

Create a “wow” amenity for employees and patients:

Depending on your population, this could mean a well-equipped fitness studio, reservable rooms to relax or meditate, or a gift shop that feels like a boutique (and has incredibly helpful staff). It’s about creating bright spots that improve their day and make them want to come back.

Hydra Health at Geisinger's Henry Cancer Center

Scenario 2

Your hospital was recently acquired and the local community has mixed reactions. How might retail help?

Partner with a local entrepreneur:

Every city has beloved coffee shops and restaurants. Adding a location of one (or more) to your facility is a tangible sign that you aren’t losing your roots and you’re still committed to supporting local business.

Invite the community into your space with programming:

If food as medicine is on your mind, become a CSA pickup point or bring in a local chef to demo healthy recipes. If your neighbors lack access to health education, create a safe space for them to learn about chronic conditions or how to navigate the healthcare system.

Entrepreneur Thane Wright at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Financing doesn’t need to be a barrier to retail innovation

While specific challenges vary across healthcare settings, the commonality is that funds are extremely limited – especially for non-clinical initiatives. So, who foots the bill for creating this type of retail experience? With the HHP solution, we develop a recommendation for each of our partners at no cost and provide the upfront capital to build out the available space. The investment we make is indicative of how strongly we feel about elevating everyday experiences and turning retail into a long-term, strategic asset.