Hospitals improve food service to increase patient satisfaction

By Healthcare Facilities Today
August 2, 2013

Hospitals nationwide are not only changing the kinds of foods they serve — trending toward greater emphasis on health and environmental sustainability — but also how they are serving it — with more facilities adopting hotel-style room service menus. 

And what is the motivation for this culinary movement? According to an article from Kaiser Health News, it all comes down to patient satisfaction and how that translates into more revenue for the healthcare providers. 

As part of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare now pays hospitals based partially on patient satisfaction scores, so administrators say food has become more important as food service can enhance the overall hospital stay experience, says the article. 

Kaiser also reports that food management companies for healthcare facilities say they are getting more requests from hospitals looking to boost their satisfaction scores for Medicare.

Richard Schenkel, CEO of Unidine, a Boston-based company that manages food service at 20 hospitals, is quoted as saying: "Healthcare reform is pushing a lot of these changes. There is a belief that when you have horrible food, it affects your patient satisfaction scores. Patients remember their food.  … It's the one thing that comes to them three times a day."

The article also cites the savings that can be gained by allowing patients to order their meals room-service style. One hospital saw food costs fall by $400,000 in the first year of its new delivery system based on eliminating waste.

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