Why hospitals of the future will include hotels on campus

Providing a positive patient experience is essential to a hospital's bottom line, brand and reputation. As healthcare leaders increasingly seek ways to enhance care, many have realized that providing comfortable and convenient accommodations for patients' families and other visitors during the hospital stay represents a new opportunity to improve the overall experience. 

Dallas-based Gatehouse Capital, founded in 1997, has emerged as a pioneer in medical hospitality development. In addition to its medical hospitality platform, the company also operates a luxury and lifestyle properties platform and a regional hotel/conference center platform. Its entrance into the hospital arena will be marked by the October opening of a Home2 Suites by Hilton hotel adjacent to Baylor Scott & White's Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, a five-story hotel with 132 keys.

"Having a hotel directly on a hospital campus provides that hospital with a tremendous advantage," says David Messersmith, who leads the medical hospitality platform at Gatehouse Capital. "It provides a more convenient experience for patients' families, as well as a competitive advantage for the hospital brand."

In addition to Baylor University Medical Center, Gatehouse Capital has contracts out with several other hospitals in various stages of negotiations. They are primarily establishing deals with large hospitals in metropolitan areas, where patients and their families presumably have broad choice when it comes to selecting overnight accommodations.

With a hotel on campus, visiting nurses and physicians, as well as patients' family members, are conveniently located close to the hospital and their loved ones, but have the opportunity to experience the comfort of a hotel. The hotels — which are all Marriott, Hilton, Starwood or Hyatt brands — will offer a variety of amenities that are specifically tailored to hospital visitors, such as a concierge to help them navigate through large hospital buildings, restaurants, bars and a fitness center.

They are also suited for hospital patients themselves. For example, the rooms will be furnished with comfortable bedroom furniture that would be safe for recovering patients. They will also house clinical retail space, where patients can check in prior to surgery, do blood work and other tests and fill out insurance paper work. Patients who have to travel a considerable distance to the hospital for a procedure or follow-up care may also find it more conducive to stay near the hospital overnight.

Building a hotel on campus expands hospitals' opportunities to increase revenue. Many large facilities already cater to patients' families by offering hospitality suites inside the hospital. However, these are typically not ideal for visiting family members, who could benefit from the respite of a private hotel suite. With a hotel on campus, hospitals can convert these hospitality suites into patient rooms, where they can treat more patients and earn significant revenue.

"A lot of what we're doing is freeing up hospitals' space to create and better utilize the facility," says Mr. Messersmith. "On top of the suites, the hotels offer two things every hospital wants: More parking and more meeting space."

The hotels offer ample space for hosting conferences, medical sales reps or continuing medical education seminars, according to Mr. Messersmith.

As emphasis on the patient experience grows, and as hospitals operate in an increasingly competitive environment, Mr. Messersmith anticipates more facilities will seek to build hotels on their campuses.

"My guess is in the next few years, every large hospital will have a hotel on its campus," he says.

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