Valet services can save your hospital money in more ways than one, despite most people thinking valet services are just an extra cost.
At first thought, it may appear that the start of a patient’s healthcare journey begins when they walk through the hospital doors. But actual user-experience begins long before, as patients and visitors worry how to even get into the building and which building is where on today’s sprawling medical campuses. Will there be any hospital parking spots left? How far is the walk? How high are the parking fees? How do you pay for it?
Hospital campuses are growing as expansions and new wings are added. It can be an intimidating experience for patients and visitors to find their way to a specific room or office. Valet services assuage these fears – not finding parking nearby, not knowing how much it will cost, not getting lost or arriving late to an appointment.
Valet services thus benefit a hospital administration twofold: less stressed patients have been linked to financial success for hospitals; and operations run more smoothly with on-time patients and faster turnaround.
The Financial Benefits of Patient Satisfaction
Hospital valet parking services are the first amenity a patient encounters when entering a medical campus. For stressed patients and concerned visitors, valet parking is an immediate comfort, as a friendly, approachable face can take care of the hassle of hospital parking and send them in the right direction.
Valet parking is not a luxury reserved for hotels or upscale restaurants. It is fundamentally an accessibility issue. When her local hospital ended its valet services, 83-year old patient Joan Ziethen was “stunned.” With her mobility concerns and difficulty walking, the valet was an essential component in getting her in the door.
Mrs. Ziethen believes “valet parking should be at hospitals everywhere” and that it is a matter of having to “stand up for our rights as seniors.” Luckily for her, almost every other hospital in her area offers valet services. As she reconsiders where to get her medical care, the hospital campuses with valet parking have the competitive advantage. For her, it is not a luxury – it is an accessibility necessity she cannot compromise on.
Mrs. Ziethen is not alone. In a 2015 survey of US Health Care Consumers, 59% listed ease of parking and facility access as an essential determining factor in overall patient healthcare experience. The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions ran regressions to determine the relationship between patient experience scores (HCAHPS) and a hospital’s operating margins and returns on assets.
The study concluded that medical campuses with higher patient experience scores have higher profits. Hospitals with higher HCAHPS ratings had a net margin of 4.7% compared to only 1.8% at lower performing facilities. The Deloitte study proposed the following explanations for the link between happy patients and high profits.
Higher patient experience scores:
- Reinforce customer loyalty, especially as patients are able to choose between a growing number of healthcare providers.
- Establish brand recognition and reputation, which 50% of patients in Deloitte’s survey listed as a key determining factor when selecting a hospital.
- Bring an increase in referrals, bringing in new patients and higher utilization of medical services.
- Medicare’s Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program (VBP) rewards hospitals with higher patient experience scores with incentive payments.
Happier patients at your hospital lead to return patients, glowing reviews, and referrals to family and friends. Since 59% of healthcare consumers prioritize their parking experience, adding valet services is a sure-fire way to improve satisfaction scores and gain the associated benefits.
Cost-Saving Expertise: Optimizing Operations
The benefits of valet parking are not merely in the competitive advantage of satisfied patients. Nor are these advantages just theoretical. There are numerous case studies of all-around reduced parking budgets when hospitals bring in third-party valet services. A professional valet company like FC Valet has the domain expertise to run hospital parking at lower operating expenses. Valet services managed correctly can improve overall traffic flows, reduce turnaround times, prevent late arrivals, and increase overall parking capacity via stacking.
Take the case of Advocate Health Care, the largest health system in Illinois with 12 hospitals and 400 sites of care. Valet parking managed by FC saved Advocate Health 27% in their annual parking budget, beating cost-saving projections by 7%.
FC Valet was able to achieve this remarkable cost reduction with the following strategies:
- An Adaptive Staffing Model – this removed overtime and unnecessary billable hours when conditions do not require it. Service hours are adjusted to match demand based on vehicle volume.
- Valet Automation Software which enables staffing and scheduling decisions to be based on collected data. FC Valet’s parking software has GPS verified time and attendance tracking that scans each car as it arrives and departs.
At the Central California Veterans Affairs Hospital, the parking shortage was so severe that veterans were missing their appointments altogether when no parking could be found anywhere on campus. FC Valet was able to redirect traffic flow and reallocate lots, increasing the valet lot capacity by 38%.
When FC Valet partnered with Northwestern Medicine, a healthcare network with eight magnet designation hospitals, a reallocation of employee lots increased valet capacity by 42% and overall parking capacity by 8%. Third party secret shopper programs found an improvement of service ratings by 20%.
Professional valet services use industry expertise to streamline operations, increase parking capacity, and improve customer satisfaction ratings. Valet attendants are trained in HIPAA, the Joint Commission standards, and five-star hospitality practices. As hospitality professionals, their presence enhances patient experience and establishes a positive first impression. Valet activity tracking systems also provide new metrics on which to gauge performance.
Michael LeBeau MD, President of Sanford Health, was interviewed by Becker’s Hospital Review on ‘The metrics healthcare leaders check daily.’ LeBeau stated that when looking at his medical center’s financial performance, the metric he looks towards is the parking garages. Specifically, he “can tell how busy we are on a daily basis simply by asking our valet parking attendants how many cars they parked the day before.”
At FC Valet, the data LeBeau utilizes is collected automatically and is readily available for hospital administrators, with data ranging from high-traffic hours to length of stay. Access to new data sources empowers administrators with opportunities to hone their operations.
Improve Profits With Hospital Valet Parking
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Valet parking provides essential services highly valued by healthcare consumers. When managed by professionals with decades of expertise, valet parking can actually reduce your hospital’s parking budget while increasing patient satisfaction. You cannot redo a first impression, so make one that embodies accessibility and hospitality. Your patients and profits alike will thank you.