The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has brought significant improvements to hospital patient care quality over the past few years. Additional changes are coming and many are focused on further improving patient health while reducing costs in a sustainable manner. Many of these changes have a similar underlying theme – they all impact healthcare foodservice.
“The goal of healthcare reform will be to improve the patient experience of care, improve population health and reduce cost,” said Kris Schroeder, Administrative Director of Support Services for Seattle’s Swedish Health System. “All of these will require employee engagement and all involve foodservice.” – FoodserviceDirector.com
- Foodservice Quality
Patient foodservice experience remains critical as staff will continue to improve the overall meal delivery quality by finding the best meal delivery model for their hospitals—traditional tray service, room service or a combination of both.
- Advanced Skills
As the population of elderly is growing, registered dietitians with enhanced skills are becoming more critical in treating sicker inpatients so they can have a faster recovery.
- Healthy Food Choices
Foodservice operators will also take the lead in increasing healthy food choices by providing more nutritious variations of sustainable foods from local sources, farmers markets or even having an on-site greenhouse.
- Malnutrition Coding
A new revenue stream for hospitals will be malnutrition coding. The new model will focus on getting patients stronger for surgery. Identifying and addressing malnutrition will speed up the recovery process and help reduce hospital re-admission. Hospitals can receive an increase in reimbursement to cover the costs if the malnutrition is identified ahead of time.
- Wellness Programs
There will be an increase in wellness programs to educate about lifestyle changes that help improve the overall health in employees, patients and communities.
Cost reduction is one of the changes to expect. Eliminating cost in some areas and reducing waste in others by introducing sustainable alternatives and identifying new revenue streams will help keep the facility a more sustainable one.
Healthcare foodservice has evolved from being the butt of hospital food jokes to playing a significant role in patient quality and health. By striking a balance between reducing waste and adding innovative revenue channels, healthcare foodservice operators can create a sustainable solution in their facility while enhancing patient satisfaction.