The Emerging Importance of Patient Amenities

A December article in the always-revered New England Journal of Medicine skims the surface of contemporary discourse on the value of “amenities” in hospital design and service. The article, by Dana P. Goldman, Mary Vaiana, and John A. Romley is titled “The Emerging Importance of Patient Amenities in Hospital Care” and is available online in it’s entirety at the time of this entry. While the article neglects to fully define what is concept of “amenities” we can assume that the vast majority of medical amenities likely relate to the physical design of the spaces in which care is offered, with the exception of perhaps massage or extended menu options.  As such, it is a fairly important article for those interested in facility design. One California Hospital campaigned after a renovation and touted their new facility as a “Better Way to Get Better, with private and family-friendly rooms, magnificent views, hotel-style room service for meals, massage therapy, and ‘a host of other unexpected amenities.’ Perhaps as a result, the proportion of patients who say they would definitely recommend UCLA to family and friends has increased by 20% (from 71% to 85%).” Patients now accustomed to and increasingly unsettled by brute force shows of technologically advanced equipment,  require a combination of clinical expertise and these so-called amenities to appreciate a facility and also to initially draw them there. As the article continues to explain, research has indicated that the “nonclinical experience is twice as important as the clinical reputation” for patients choosing hospitals, perhaps because nonclinical experiences are, simply stated, easier to understand or perhaps because they do very much have an effect on the healing process. Ultimately, no questions are answered regarding the relevance, benefits, or cost-effectiveness of this broad category of “amenities” but it is generally good, it seems, to have the issue addressed in any way possible in such a wide-read and respected journal.



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