Your hospital receives solid patient satisfaction ratings so your hospital parking system can wait for your attention, right? Wrong. A new study reports that people over the age of 65 judge healthcare facilities by the condition and ease of use of hospital parking systems. Surprisingly, seniors consider the hospital parking facility as the key indicator of the first impression, second only to the lobby. That means that when a senior patient enters the grounds of your facility they aren’t looking at the landscaping or the buildings, they are judging the hospital by the parking system. For them, the patient experience extends through the door and out to the curb.

These are not your “grandmother’s” senior citizens; they are active and knowledgeable.

This finding could be discouraging, given the priority placed on staff training and hospital environments to improve patient satisfaction. However, it is a very useful insight into human nature and how it impacts your bottom line. How many times have you judged a business by its appearance? It’s easy to assume that a dusty store with a crumbling curb sells low quality merchandise, whereas a newly painted store with awnings must sell expensive merchandise. All of that may or may not be true, but the first impression is formed before walking in the door.

The study held another surprise; seniors prefer to pay by credit card. These are not your “grandmother’s” senior citizens; they are active and knowledgeable. They are online, shop for healthcare and research what ails them. Today’s seniors want what we all want, convenience and ease of use. In fact, they have opinions on hospital parking systems, what’s easy to use and what frustrates them. Learn more here.

When it comes to paying for parking after being in the hospital for a minute or a day, seniors express a strong preference for the following:
1. Ease of use. Large text, user friendly interfaces, step-by-step instructions are desirable.
2. Speed, not lines; happy to use a digital payment kiosk if it’s the quickest way to pay.
3. Using a credit card to pay is fine but it must be visible at all times. If the machine ingests the card during use, that is a cause for worry.

Why do these findings matter? Seniors are revenue.
Seniors are the fast growing percentage of the population in the United States and Canada. They represent the majority of your patient population and are vocal influencers with friends and family. The seniors who participated in this study were well-educated, with medium to high income. That means they are a microcosm of the seniors your hospital has to attract if you are to grow your bottom line.

In short, don’t park your parking facility at the bottom of your administrative dashboard. The largest part of your patient population considers hospital parking systems to be part and parcel of the patient experience. That’s why both of them demand your attention.