University of Carolina hospital has taken a new approach in its health care food service model by developing 13 different restaurant concepts within the institution’s dining hall.
By implementing restaurant concepts, Angelo Mojica, the director of nutrition services for UNC Healthcare, was able to decrease food waste and cut costs. Patients are given a 20-page menu and have 90 dishes to choose from. They can order Mexican food from Bandoleros, Chinese food from Red Ginger or pizza from Cosmo’s.
Patients are also able to order food at anytime, which helps cut down on food waste. Additionally, since patients are able to order a variety of foods and only ones that interest them, there is a better chance of the entire meal being consumed. This is a great change from the previous food service model that the hospital featured, which distributed the same dishes to patients at predetermined mealtimes.
This new model allows patients access to the same foods as visitors and staff. When Mojica had first headed the UNC Hospital team, he had pushed for room service. However, it quickly became apparent that it would require too much money and manpower. Mojica then looked to their existing services and created a new approach.
“I was thinking about it and I said to myself, ‘We make such really good retail food,'” he recalled. “‘What if we were to serve retail food to the patients?'”
By combining the retail and patient menu, Mojica provided not only a greater range of options and accessibility to patients, he also eased the workloads of his kitchen staff by eliminating the previously standard patient dishes.
Despite the expanded options that patients could choose from, Mojica was aware of restricted diets and employed patient foodservice software that recognized food items that patients weren’t allowed to consume, a valuable resource for hospital food services. Patients’ orders are placed to a call center, where operators pull up dietary information and provide callers with alternatives to meals. This gives patients a level of human interaction, which likely increases satisfaction.
This model has raised the patient food satisfaction levels from 89 percent to 99 percent. Mojica’s technique lowered the workload for kitchen staff and allowed patients to assemble custom meals that they want to consume, thereby cutting down on food waste and cost.