Recently, I had the opportunity to represent Impark Health at The Beryl Institute Patient Experience Conference in Dallas, Texas. As part of our booth, we surveyed patient-experience representatives from various hospitals to help understand how they feel patients view their parking operations and how certain features of the parking operation work toward enhancing the patient experience at their respective hospitals. We surveyed 44 patient-experience professionals from 40 different facilities around the world on 12 questions across two categories. The two areas that our survey focused on were:
How important to your patients and staff are various features of hospital operations?
This category included questions about six different aspects of hospital operations. We asked patient-experience professionals to approach the questions from the perspective of the patients and staff at their hospitals, and rate the importance of various features. Below are the results:
All of our survey respondents categorized infection control as either important or very important, with an astounding 84 percent of patient-experience experts stating that infection control is very important to patients and staff. An equal number of respondents asserted that friendly and positive interaction with parking/transportation personnel is very important. On the low end, only 68 percent stated that getting from the car to the hospital in the shortest number of steps is very important; however, none of our respondents felt that this consideration was unimportant either.
How Would You Rate Your Hospital’s Parking Operation?
The second section of the survey also posed six questions, this time focusing on how patient-experience professionals themselves would rate the parking operation at their specific facility. The results are as follows:
The survey results above indicate that many of our respondents feel there is room for improvement across the various aspects of hospital parking operations. Indeed, 48 percent of patient-experience professionals stated that getting from the car to the hospital entrance in the shortest number of steps is something that needs improvement at their facility. Falling just behind this result, 47 percent of those surveyed expressed that adequate pedestrian wayfinding signage needs improving. However, only 26 percent of respondents felt that a friendly experience with the parking staff needed work.
After evaluating the survey results, I believe there are a couple of standout items that suggest action may be required on the part of hospital executives. Firstly, the results related to infection control are quite interesting: 84 percent of respondents stated that it is very important to patients and staff, 35 percent said that infection control in the parking environment needs improvement, and 9 percent categorized infection control in their hospital’s parking environment as bad. What does this mean?
As most people know, infection prevention in the hospital is tremendously important due to the extreme costs — societal and financial — related to the epidemics that may result from healthcare-associated infections. The survey results suggest that although healthcare officials undoubtedly understand the importance of controlling contagions, they may not be doing enough to prevent infections beyond the walls of the hospital itself. Who’s to say patients are not catching foreign illnesses from valet staff, garage elevators, parking payment equipment, or inside shuttle buses? After speaking with many of our respondents post survey, this is something they hadn’t previously considered.
The second intriguing result is that 75 percent of our patient-experience professionals stated that clear vehicular directional signs and adequate pedestrian wayfinding signage are very important. (42 and 47 percent of respondents, respectively, also felt that these components of their hospitals’ parking operations need improvement.) Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, nearly half of patient-experience experts felt their facilities could improve on the number of steps required to get from a parked car to the hospital entrance. When these statistics are considered together, it seems clear that we are failing to make it easy for patients, staff, visitors, and volunteers to get to their final destination inside the hospital, thus hindering the patient experience.
The 44 survey respondents are patient-experience professionals from hospitals across the world. From New York to Australia, we were able to obtain a variety of informative and contrasting views from around the globe! Our takeaway from this survey is that with value-based care becoming the top priority in hospitals everywhere, there are many features of hospital parking operations that have not been adequately considered. Giving these parking components the attention they deserve has the potential to improve profit margins by enhancing the patient experience before they ever step foot inside the hospital.
You don’t need to charge more for parking to increase revenue. You simply need the patient to come back to your hospital. This is easily accomplished by treating your parkers as if they are already patients.