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Managing the foodservice department in a hospital requires special expertise. Every day, you balance running efficient kitchen and cafeteria operations with serving the entire facility. Patient satisfaction stays at the top of your priority list.
Knowing how to improve hospital foodservice helps you improve the patient experience.
Upgrading Hospital Foodservice: 8 Ways to Boost Patient Satisfaction
When you deliver the best hospital foodservice possible, you help transform attitudes toward healthier eating.
Upgrade your existing operations and improve patient satisfaction by putting these eight ideas into action.
1. Fine-Tune Personalized Orders
Personalized tray delivery in hospitals stands out as a hospital foodservice trend that’s become a patient favorite. Fine-tune the practice with cook-to-order options based on patient dietary needs.
Include friends and family too. Let them order customized meals from a visitors’ menu. This idea keeps everyone in a patient’s room happy. It also keeps their discretionary dining funds in-house.
2. Pay Attention to Presentation
Increase the positive response to your facility’s foodservice selections by improving plate presentation. Instruct kitchen staff to add the touches that transform a dish into a feast for the eyes. The strategy is a quick, cost-efficient way to make a better impression on hospital patients and visitors.
3. Deploy Food Ambassadors
Everyone enjoys knowing their opinion counts, but don’t limit patients to comment cards. Train staff to act as ambassadors from your foodservice operations to those you serve every day. Use patient input to shape decision-making based on these key points.
• Overall level of satisfaction with hospital food quality
• Percentage of patients and visitors with dietary preferences
• Favorite comfort foods that might work with your menu
• Specific changes that can improve tray service
• Feedback about what your hospital menu might be missing
4. Retest the Taste of Everything
Set up regular taste testing sessions with kitchen staff. Include hospital dietitians and other interested employees. Try out new ideas, but always revisit set menu selections. Small changes can make a big difference in patient satisfaction.
Use the meetings to regularly identify ways for improving your hospital’s food. Be sure to incorporate suggestions from your food ambassadors’ patient visits.
5. Redesign the Salad Bar
Turn the hospital cafeteria’s salad bar into a destination for healthy eating. Give visitors and employees new reasons to stop by the venerable cold station. Entice them with housemade dressings and nutritional toppings. Include classics like savory Caesars, creamy pasta creations and rotisserie chicken salads.
6. Keep the Seasons in Play
Your revitalized salad bar is a natural station for showcasing seasonal fruits and vegetables. Broaden hospital foodservice quality by applying that same rotation to menu selections.
Source premium produce for a variety of nutritional recipes. Engineer diet-specific dishes around healthy options that celebrate different seasons. Changing out veggie sides, plant-based entrees and fresh fruit desserts can hold interest in hospital menus year-round.
7. Cater to Younger Patients
Develop recipes that let younger hospital patients enjoy healthy versions of their favorite foods. Make grilled cheese sandwiches with housemade whole grain breads. Top pizzas with fresh veggies and pesto. Delight kids and put parents’ minds at ease with nutritious hospital food that keeps little appetites strong.
8. Offer Healthy Cooking Classes
Help patients and their families discover nutritious pathways to better health through on-site cooking classes. It’s an excellent way to improve the patient stay experience, and it can reduce readmissions. Work with your hospital’s dietitians to design different classes targeting specific patient recovery goals.
Updating Hospital Foodservice Policies
Small and large improvements are easier to implement when you review and refresh existing policies. All hospital foodservice operations can benefit from adopting updated strategies. These are just a few examples.
• Move patient menu development toward more plant-based options.
• Commit to healthier beverage choices throughout the hospital.
• Partner with suppliers who support sustainable agricultural practices.
• Make community outreach and education a part of your nutritional policies.
Connecting You With Fresh ideas
It’s easier to meet industry challenges when you have access to fresh ideas. Our teams here at Hitchcock Farms enjoy keeping you connected with tips and trends specific to your operations. From the freshest premium produce to foodservice inspiration, we’re always happy to serve you with our best.
Dan Holt is an experienced produce professional who started in the industry as a quality assurance inspector in the early 1990s and leads sales at Hitchcock Farms as Vice President. Prior to joining Hitchcock Farms, Dan enjoyed success in organic, specialty and conventional produce and with independent operators, regional and national chains in North America and abroad. Dan continues his passion in produce through collaborative inspiration and promoting healthy and sustainable food.