Hospital Hospitality

Denver Severt knows that hospitals can offer drastically different types of care. His 3-day-old son, Noah, spent his short life in two facilities whose care was so contradictory that Severt was compelled to apply his knowledge of hospitality management to patient care.

“At the first hospital, Noah was having trouble breathing. A nurse came in and asked us his name, claiming a file had been misplaced. Four hours later the nurse returned, asked his name again, took out a pen, and wrote our son’s name on her hand. It made for a frustrating, traumatic experience,” says Severt.

Noah passed away from hypoplastic left heart syndrome at the second hospital. It was this hospital’s extraordinary service that motivates Severt today.

He refers to the compassion demonstrated by the neonatal intensive care unit physician as “the best service encounter of my life.”

“The medical outcome can be bad, but it doesn’t mean the service to the patient has to be compromised.”

Now Severt, an associate professor at UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management, assists hospitals in researching how they administer service, from a patient’s admission to their discharge from a facility. The studies are conducted to help hospitals improve satisfaction scores, which the government reviews for Medicare reimbursements.

“We did an emergency department study on the flow of patients. We learned that hospitals are sophisticated but fragmented entities,” he says. “The management is separate from the nurses, volunteers and physicians.”

The studies aid hospitals in breaking down communication barriers between nurses, physicians, hospital management and employees, and help all of the independent professionals to work as a unit.

“Improvement can come by making everyone’s job more efficient, by transferring medical records properly, or simply by spending more time listening to patient needs,” says Severt.

“In a hedonistic business like leisure, the guests want to be there. No one wants to be a guest at a hospital,” Severt says. “But a bed is a bed, and patients compare them. It’s the consumer-based nature of our society.” ✦