Extended stays in hospitals or healthcare facilities may not be a patient’s first choice, but are often necessary. Long admissions lead to patients and visitors eating multiple meals at your place of business. While foodservice in hospitals and healthcare facilities has often received the lowest scores in overall patient satisfaction, there have been recent efforts to develop and enhance meal times. Below are helpful tips to improve a patient’s overall experience as well as your bottom line.
Incorporate seasonal fruits and vegetables on your menu.
Doctors often recommend a balanced nutritional meal as part of a patient’s recovery, but the choices they are given have historically fallen short. The farm-to-table movement is expanding beyond the restaurant kitchen and is becoming a way of life. Providing fresh, nutrient rich options is important to overall care as well as keeping patients happy with tasty dishes. It also entices visitors to eat at your cafeteria or dining hall as opposed to waiting until they leave or grabbing a bite at a nearby food establishment.
For more information on adding seasonal foods to your menu, read our Guide to Locally Sourcing Ingredients.
Offer personalized cooked-to-order tray service.
Traditionally, all patients have been served the same three meals a day at the same time of day. In recent years, hospitals have started to allow patients to order any type of food they want and have it delivered at their preferred time for eating. Studies show this practice has enhanced patient satisfaction, which has been linked to improved bill payment. In addition, you can also expect less waste – since meals are prepared on a smaller scale, there are fewer leftovers being tossed, not to mention patients actually eating all of their meal.
Take care when presenting food.
While the quality and nutritional value of food are important, studies have found the overall presentation of a meal also plays a significant part. Typically, the patient’s guardians or caregivers fill out comment cards and surveys. And while they are the ones providing the feedback, they aren’t the ones actually tasting the food given to the patient. Their response is based on presentation alone. Train your staff to spend a few more minutes on creating an appetizing display. You may want to invest in serving utensils or plating tools to aid sculpting the perfect plate.
This is a quick and cost effective way to improve the comments you receive.
Update your cafeteria to a cafe.
Creating ambiance and enhancing your menu to include trendy choices like Asian fusion or farm-to-table locally sourced items will make your dining area a desirable place to eat for patients, visitors and staff. This service approach provides the opportunity for you to earn incremental dollars when people feel comfortable and welcome, making them stay longer and order additional items. Read up on the latest trends to hit the foodservice scene here. You may be able to adapt one or two ideas for your facility.
Consider providing cooking classes for patients and their caregivers.
Under the ACA, hospitals can be penalized for patient readmissions. You can help to curb this unfavorable trend by incorporating nutrition education in your cooking classes. Not only will patients be better educated about how they can maintain a healthy eating lifestyle, but they can hopefully avoid a future visit due to improper healing from lack of proper nutrition.
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