Many hospitals are looking to provide healthier options for their patients, including Kaiser Permanente, a health care provider that operates nearly 40 hospitals in California. Earlier this year, the organization released a statement that noted the changes they plan to implement within the next four years. One transformation will affect the hospital menus provided to patients. The group will label all food and beverages with calorie counts on the menus as well as the cafeterias. This is a small shift that can yield great results for hospital food service who are looking to better educate their patients.
Providing information up front
Oftentimes, patients who order meals are not aware of the nutritional facts. If they receive pre-packaged goods such as a yogurt cup or a bottle of orange juice, the products will come labeled. However, prepared meals from the kitchen provide no nutritional facts for patients. By providing the information on the menu, hospital kitchens enable patients to make wiser decisions in their meals.
Crafting specific meals
Hospital kitchens can take this change further by creating specific meals for those with more prevalent ailments, such as diabetes. Chefs who have access to nutrition and recipe software can more easily create dishes that offer the most benefits for these patients. Members of kitchen staff can also exercise creativity and experiment with new dishes that could inspire patients to adopt healthier diets at home. It could be beneficial to make the more popular recipes available to the general public. By catering to specific patient groups on hospital menus, health care food services can show their commitment to patient health and satisfaction.
Understanding patient needs
Redesigning a hospital menu would allow patients to make more well-informed decisions. Hospital kitchens should also consider allowing some customization of dishes, such as a variety of healthy sides. Giving patients more control over their meals will ensure that they’ll enjoy the nutritional benefits as well as the food itself.
It could be wise to further train staff members who have direct interaction with patients. This way, if patients have any questions regarding the menu or the nutritional facts, kitchen employees will be able to provide further information or make suggestions. Patient satisfaction may be influenced by the altered menu, but the additional help offered by the staff members who deliver food may have an immensely positive effect on patient satisfaction.