Being in the hospital is rarely a pleasant time, especially for patients who are physically in pain, in addition to feeling stressed and lonely. With frequent interruptions from staff members and medical procedures, it can be difficult to find comfort, not to mention appetite. With the focus on improving patient satisfaction scores, food service evidently plays a critical role in overall patient experience.
Patients Are In Control
Room service has greatly influenced our perception of hospital stays over the past few years. After decades of underperforming in this department and creating such bad stigma for hospital food, many hospitals are finally changing their strategy, veering away from the traditional standardized tray line service. They now give patients the option of selecting appealing items from a restaurant-like menu and offer them the convenience of placing their orders whenever they’re hungry, as opposed to enforcing pre-set hours dictated by the staff. With all of these changes, today’s patients are certainly more likely to report a positive patient experience.
Improve Appetite and Experience
Because patients can order when and what they crave, they are more likely to have built up the appetite to eat it too. At Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, NY, the number of patients who ate more than half of their main entree at each meal jumped by nearly 50% after this new room service strategy was implemented. This rise in patient appetite and satisfaction after switching to room service can directly be linked to patient meal experience. Similarly, after implementing room service at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, there was a significant increase in patient calorie and protein intake. Room service also resulted in staggering boosts in patient satisfaction scores where “Excellent” ratings increased by as much as 35%.
“The hospital experience for the patient is much more positive in organizations that bring forward room service,” shared Lore Bogolin, Vice President of Patient Care Services, at Vassar Brothers Medical Center, in an interview with the Poughkeepsie Journal.
Nutrition Leads to Faster Recovery
Room service brings great value with its flexible service hours and restaurant style menu items. It’s essential to patient health and recovery. The increase in appetite and the improved nutrition intake help patients better cope with some of the difficult therapies they undergo and the side effects that follow. Through adequate nutrition, patients have more control of their health which can impact their recovery.
Personal Interaction and Positive Attitude
Customer service is now more important than ever. While hospitals with traditional tray line service assign, on average, one staff member to deliver meals to 60-80 patients within 45 minutes which leaves no time for quality patient interaction, facilities with room service have already overcome that battle. With room service in place, the staff has the opportunity to interact with each patient while dropping off their meal. It allows them to receive feedback on food quality and service, or just to talk about personal topics. Realizing how important that staff-patient interaction is to patients’ attitudes when given the opportunity to receive feedback from them, more hospitals now include customer-service training to the staff and require new hires to have previous experience in this field.
The ROI of Service
From an investment perspective, patient satisfaction scores stemming from direct patient experience, are all elements that define the ROI of any given room service program. Hospitals providing room service often are often linked to waste stream reduction as less food is discarded. When investing in room service programs—from temperature maintenance solutions to room service carts to trays and traytop solutions are all equally valuable to the effectiveness of the program. Therefore, selecting equipment that’s durable, reliable and that supports green initiatives helps reduce cost in some areas and eliminate future replacement cost in other areas.
More than ever before, foodservice finds itself at the center of what defines an ideal patient experience. While many facilities are busy figuring out other efficient ways to improve patient experience, tailored room service tend to be the right choice for many others. To successfully improve patient experience, it requires more than just offering meals on-demand. It takes determination, collaboration, resources and training.