When we think about “hospital food,” some people automatically think of bland meatloaf and store-bought Jell-O. This means most of today’s patients still expect hospital food to be tasteless and boring, and this assumption poses many problems for healthcare institutions.
Why Hospital Food Quality Matters
One, hospital meals play a crucial role in the management of hospitalized patients. Patients need to consume the optimal nutritional intake to hasten their recovery. But if they don’t find the hospital food appetizing, they won’t get the nutrients they need. This can result in a prolonged length of stay and poor clinical outcomes.
Second, the quality of hospital food affects the patient experience. A patient looks at their entire experience when evaluating a health care institution, not just the clinical treatments they receive. When they’re not pleased with their experience in the hospital, patient satisfaction goes down.
The third problem is the food wastage. A study shows that hospitals generate about 3 pounds of wasted food per bed every day. All those uneaten meals go straight into the trash, contributing to the country’s larger food waste problem. Hospitals are also wasting money by serving food that patients don’t want to eat.
Of course, hospitals have a lot to prioritize when it comes to providing patient care. But these three problems prove that food should also require focus. Increasing the quality of your meal service helps you improve your patient experience and recovery outcomes. It also gives you a chance to cut costs.
The following strategies can help hospitals elevate their food quality and meal service and reduce food wastage.
Measure your food waste
Quantify your unconsumed food. This allows you to calculate how much you can save on food expenses and plan your menu according to your patients’ preferences. By measuring your food waste, you can prevent the overproduction of meals, lessening food wastage.
Weighing your food waste also helps you adopt a better food recovery process. For instance, hospitals can collect and sort their unconsumed but still edible food. The food will then be delivered to shelters, half-way houses, and other organizations catering to the needy.
Adopt hotel-style delivery service
More and more hospitals are adopting a hotel-style room service. This allows patients to choose their meals from a menu, which will then be delivered to their rooms.
Compared to the traditional cafeteria-style, the on-demand dining system means patients eat what they really want to eat, reducing food waste. Hotel-style food service also contributes to the patient experience. Patients feel better-taken care of, increasing their satisfaction.
Some hospitals are worried that on-demand dining is expensive to run. Sourcing your meal delivery equipment from an OEM like Elakeside can help you reduce start-up costs. And if you plan your menu and procure ingredients wisely, a hotel-style delivery service can help you cut your food costs in the long run.
Plan your menu wisely
Food purchasing and menu development offer the best opportunities for cost-cutting and food waste reduction in hospitals since the prices of ingredients are always rising. You can customize your menu according to which ingredients are currently in season, so you can procure them at lower prices.
Of course, your dishes should balance the taste and the nutritional requirements of the patients. Consider hiring an executive chef who can create healthy, gourmet-like dishes. Don’t forget to create a menu for every patient’s diet, such as the FODMAP diet and a soft mechanical diet.
Ultimately, improving your patient meal service brings many benefits to your hospital. Food is fundamental to a person’s health, which is the number one priority of hospitals. Providing patient-oriented care means considering their food needs as well, not just their clinical treatments. Serving good, healthy food is an important aspect of taking care of your patients — one that shouldn’t be overlooked.