University of Delaware
Ali A. Poorani, associate professor and director of Hospitality Associates for Research and Training at UD, challenges participants in the Patient Experience Academy with an interactive exercise.

Hotels bridging health care

Lerner's HRIM partners with Christiana Care in Patient Experience Academy


12:51 p.m., May 16, 2014--In a continuation of previous efforts to address the trend in hotels bridging health care, the Department of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management (HRIM) in the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics has announced a partnership with the Christiana Care Health System to deliver the Patient Experience Academy.

The 10-week course, which is part of the curriculum of the Value Institute Academy at Christiana Care, aims to adapt proven customer service and engagement strategies from the hospitality industry to a health care setting.

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“Hospitals have long looked to the hospitality industry for inspiration in finding ways to improve the customer service experience for patients,” said Shawn Smith, vice president of Patience Experience, who developed the program working closely with his colleagues in Christiana Care’s Learning Institute and at UD. “But this close partnership between Christiana Care and UD is really a new frontier. By matching health care expertise with hospitality expertise and collaborating to create an entire curriculum that’s tailor made for our health care system, we’re lighting a spark that will really energize our organizational culture around ‘The Christiana Care Way.’ Most importantly, our neighbors — our patients and their families — will benefit from a world-class patient experience.”

Sheryl Kline, chair of HRIM, said the department is pleased to be a part of the innovative program.

“We are fortunate to be in the Delaware community where the management at Delaware’s major health care system recognizes the need to be leaders in health care and hospitality,” said Kline. “Patients have many of the same needs as hotel guests. Top health care systems today must do more than heal their patients; they must provide personalized, welcoming and caring service and environments. HRIM is a national leader in hospitality education and we look forward to working with Christiana Care Health System on this innovative endeavor.”

The first course of the pilot program began April 29 with 40 Christiana Care employees who hail from a range of front-of-house staff, from patient guides to valets. They are learning skills and techniques that will help them create an outstanding first impression for patients and visitors at Christiana Care.

Ali Poorani, associate professor of HRIM and director of Hospitality Associates for Research and Training (HART), said the program is another step after years of work on global tourism and wellness research.

“One of the goals of HRIM is to bridge hospitality and health care and to learn from one another to advance health care delivery,” said Poorani. “The students at the Christiana Care Health System are awesome, enthusiastic, willing and ready to exceed the patient/guest experience, and any faculty in the world would enjoy having such committed learners in the classroom.”

Additional faculty in HRIM will contribute their knowledge and experience to the academy, including Fred J. DeMicco, ARAMARK Chair in HRIM, and Bill Sullivan, managing director of the Courtyard by Marriott; and Kathy Smith, former senior vice president at the Ritz Carlton Hotels who has participated in past HRIM workshops and will also add to the partnership.

“We appreciate the efforts of Christiana Care Health System and Shawn Smith for offering continued learning opportunities to employees at Christiana Care through our resources at UD,” said Poorani.

Photos courtesy of Christiana Care

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