Implementing patient room service is a challenging project. Foodservice departments often run into unexpected roadblocks from space limitation, miscalculated budget or limited staff qualifications. Having a systematic plan in place before the actual implementation phase can dramatically reduce the risk of a disastrous outcome.
The implementation can take up to two years, as it takes time to integrate all the layers together. The goal is to provide optimal patient room service, meeting the staff and customer service requirements within the budget your facility permits. Taking these five points in consideration will improve the quality of your room service program from the start.
- Employee Training
Most people don’t like change and more so in the healthcare foodservice industry. A dramatic change that requires dedication and commitment must start from the top—the management. When the management team approaches change with a positive mindset, they will also be successful in changing the department culture. It’s important to involve all levels of staff early in the change. Employee training is crucial to the quality of room service. Most importantly, keeping employees involved from the start encourages commitment and increases responsibility while reducing turnover. Providing resources and routine training such as patient service, efficient work practices and food safety help secure a quality team for your department.
- Kitchen Space
If your kitchen area is more than 20 years old, chances are that it was not designed for room service. Some of the most common challenges include equipment geared to bulk production rather than cook to orders or the food production station being located away from tray assembly area. Be mindful of your product selections as there are ways to incorporate efficient equipment without occupying a large foot print. For instance, you may want to consider drying racks that can hold your meal delivery bases and food pans rather than having one separate unit for each application. The key to succeed is to have a process that allows control over work efficiency, meal ordering and service process that fits in the existing footprint with minimal up-front investment.
- Budget planning
The budget planning phase is where you want to identify products and equipment needed for the launch of your new room service program. This is your opportunity to get it right from the start—by investing in products that can multitask. As an example, if your existing meal delivery cart is too noisy and disturbing your patients’ rest hours, you may want to look into a durable and quiet cart that will improve your patient experience as well. Whether there are patient satisfaction challenges or other department goals now is the time to include it in your plan.
- Revenue Stream
In the planning phase, identify a revenue stream that is going to help support the new room service program because a lucrative revenue source will help support future upgrades and branding efforts. In the foodservice department, the retail cafeteria is the heart of revenue. A retail cafeteria that serves fresh, healthy and creative menu items priced competitively relative to nearby restaurants can draw a lot of customers, from employee and visitors to the locals. A well-managed cafeteria is a tremendous value to hospitals offering room service to their patients.
- Equipment upgrade
With a solid revenue channel in place, your department will find itself in a more secure position when an upgrade is needed. This extra cash flow will allow your department to gradually grade equipment and products that help improve employee work efficiency and the overall patient experience before your employee experience or patient satisfaction declines.
The majority of the effort that leads to a successful room service program lies in the pre-implementation phase. Approaching the implementation in a systematic manner helps all aspects under control and increase the likelihood of providing the ideal room service program. For more information about innovative ways to effectively implement your room service, contact your local Cambro Healthcare Representative.