By Peter Cayan, Vice President Supply Chain and Nutrition Consulting
First in a series of periodic blog posts based on the Intalere Illuminated Path Podcast Series
Today, foodservice in a hospital is a support service function. Think of it as a hotel. You go to a hotel, you stay at a hotel, the housekeeping and the food is a component of part of this stay and, as a result of that, everybody knows foodservice.
You know foodservice because you have it at home, so it’s very, very much a touching point in people’s minds today, not only the patient’s mind, but also the minds of the family members who are there supporting them. What’s happened over the past 15 or 20 years is the role of consumerism in healthcare. Meaning, specifically, that there’s a huge emphasis related to the patient experience. You, as a patient in a hospital today, experience many things – obviously the care that you are given, the parking, that your family had to get you there and/or return you there, the food, the cleanliness, etc.
Where food plays into that, obviously, is that everyone knows food – you know it, your family knows it and everyone has cooked it. It’s not something like controlling pain or a procedure that you don’t know. It has a huge role in the patient experience. If you look at the economic side of foodservice and hospitals today versus senior living, this is where the huge dichotomy on the economic factor plays into it.
Roughly about 7 to 10 percent of what hospitals spend today is spent in the food arena. In nursing homes or senior living, it’s about 30 percent – bigger fish in a small pond. So it does play a significant role in terms of spend on the senior living side, not so much on the acute care side, but it does play a huge role in the patient experience. And not only the specific food component of it. When you look at foodservice, you’re really looking at four things in the patient experience:
- Did I get what I ordered?
- Is the food hot?
- Is the food good?
- And the most important factor of all – Is the person courteous to me who’s delivering the tray?
When you look at those four indexes, that are measured in satisfaction instruments, the single most important feature of the patient experience in foodservice today is what I call the courtesy question.
For example, when you go into a restaurant, you could have a fabulous meal at a pretty good price, but if you get bad service, nasty service, poor service, it kind of dilutes the whole experience versus great courtesy, mediocre quality. The bottom line is that if you get the courtesy question right, you’re going to do fairly well in terms of your patient experience on the foodservice experience factor questions.
To learn more, listen to the entire podcast The Balancing Act in Healthcare Foodservice. And to better understand how Intalere’s Nutrition Consulting Team can help you reduce costs and improve your foodservice operation, watch this video featuring Peter Cayan.