The Affordable Care Act has driven hospitals to focus more on patient satisfaction. The initiative includes the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, which will allow recently admitted patients to take surveys regarding the level of care they feel they received during their stay. These surveys will be compiled into a national database that is open to the public. One hospital sector currently being revamped in many areas is hospital food service. Though the health care industry is working to provide a wider variety of and healthier foods, expanding into more ethnic dishes may improve patient satisfaction.
Understanding a diverse nation
There are certain multicultural groups whose diets are limited or require specific attention. An article written by Gihan ElGindy, RN on Minority Nurse highlighted some of the dietary needs of certain cultural groups.
Muslims typically do not consume any pork products, and all meat must be well-cooked. In addition, prior to cooking, raw meat has to be soaked in water to drain out all blood. Food served in accordance with the belief should not touch any kitchenware that has itself touched pork or alcohol. There are also specific methods by which the animal has to be slaughtered.
Followers of Judaism abstain from eating any pork products and must also have the blood drained from meat. Additionally, they do not consume dairy and meat products at the same time, nor can kitchenware be used for both food items. There are also specific types of birds and fish that are prohibited from Jewish diets.
A study conducted in the United Kingdom showed that minority groups in the London Borough of Brent were less satisfied with hospital menus due to limited options. It further revealed a limited number of hospital staff were familiar with the dietary needs of minority cultures.
The United States is known for its diversity. Traditional hospital food variety has not always catered to the wide array of patients. Oftentimes, patients will ask family members to prepare more familiar foods. Until recently, many hospitals did not factor food service as a large part of patient satisfaction. However, with the diverse population that visit hospitals daily, it is important for health care services to offer not only healthier and wider options, but also ones that cater to minority groups.
Having the comfort of familiar food
Many hospitals are now looking to improve their menus. Food is being seen not just as sustenance, but as a means of providing extra comfort to those who cannot be home. As the variety grows, it will be important to remember to cater to the diverse patients that stay at hospitals to ensure that everyone is equally satisfied with their meals.