There are many changes a hospital food service can make to improve patient satisfaction scores, reduce costs, cut down on food waste, boost staff productivity and improve the hospital’s reputation as a whole. One easy way to get all of these benefits is by upgrading your food service software for a more streamlined approach to food service management. But there’s another improvement that many hospitals have been adopting that will soon become the industry norm: hospital room service.
Just like a room service operation at a hotel, hospital room service works by giving patients access to the foods they want whenever they want them. They’re able to order off of a restaurant-style menu and receive high-quality meals in a short amount of time. There are many reasons why more food service directors are adopting these programs. Here’s why you might want to consider it, as well as a few tips for successful implementation.
The benefits of hospital room service
Hospital room service has several obvious benefits for patients. It gives them more meal flexibility and variety, which can greatly improve their experience while staying at the hospital. It lets them plan meals around their schedules, which ensures that they get warm, appetizing meals whenever they want them, making it more likely that they’ll eat the food instead of leaving it on their plates.
Hospital staff are also big proponents of hospital meal service because it makes their patients happier. It also makes it easier to schedule tests and procedures, since they don’t have to revolve around set food service times to reduce the likelihood of a patient missing a meal.
The room service model is also more cost effective and can reduce the amount of waste that a hospital produces. According to Foodservice Equipment and Supplies magazine, room service generally costs $100,000 less annually in food and supplies per 100 patients. It can also improve hazard analysis and critical control points scores, which can affect the amount of government reimbursement hospitals get for services rendered to patients. Of course, it also improves patient satisfaction scores.
Characteristics of a good hospital menu
Once you’ve decided to take the plunge and implement a hospital room service program, you’ll need to come up with a great menu for patients to order from. Here are a few characteristics of a successful menu.
– Seasonal: Seasonal menus, according to Food Management magazine, highlight fresh ingredients and gives hospitals the opportunity to take advantage of local vendors to cut costs and improve patient satisfaction.
– Simple: The meals on a good menu should be simple so that they can be made quickly and effectively by staff members who aren’t necessarily trained with a background in single-serve production.
– Colorful: Bold, colorful meals are more appetizing to patients and make the food look more presentable. Things like garnishes, which should ideally be part of the meal instead of a simple afterthought, can help achieve this.
– Sustainable: When choosing menu items, it’s important to consider the costs of the ingredients. High-cost goods could eventually become a burden and prompt you to cut corners, which could result in decreased patient satisfaction.
– Recognizable: While you may be tempted to choose trendy foods or get creative with presentation, it’s better to stick with meals that people are familiar with that are always favorites. This will ensure that items won’t have to be taken off the menu in the future because no one orders them.
– Varied: Some hospital patients stay for long periods of time, which means the menu should have plenty of variety to keep them from getting bored. This may mean a bigger menu is necessary.