When was the last time you heard someone crack a joke about hospital food? In the past, hospital food had a reputation for being bland and tasteless. Sure, no one expects a four-star restaurant when staying in the hospital, but tasty, nutritious food still plays an important role in patient well-being.
Here are proven ways hospital food services can actually help keep patients happy and reduce readmission rates.
Provide Plenty of Information
Patients are more informed about nutrition than ever before. They want to know what’s in the foods they eat. Moreover, many people follow restricted diets, including gluten-free or vegetarian. It’s important for Food Service Operations to meet the needs of these patients.
Hospitals should provide patients with detailed labels to help them manage any food restrictions. Access to online menus lets patients select foods that meet their dietary needs.
Even having an on-site dietitian will ensure patients can choose a menu that’s both tasty and healthy.
Nutritious Comfort Foods
Everyone knows you should eat a well-balanced meal, and anyone admitted to the hospital assumes the food will be more nutritious than most.
However, if patients don’t like how the food looks or tastes, they won’t eat it. In fact, nearly 51-percent of patients leave most of their food uneaten.
Patients want foods they recognize and crave. Instead of serving unappetizing meals, hospitals should find a way to serve “comfort foods” without the bad ingredients. While you won’t find a deep fryer in most hospital kitchens, it’s still possible to make palatable and healthier French fries in the oven. When patients have access to foods they enjoy, they are more likely to get the nutrients they need to make a full recovery.
Follow a Room Service Model
Room service isn’t only for hotels. This type of personalized service is also ideal in a hospital setting. It lets patients choose what to eat whenever they are hungry.
Having a room service option ensures patients get food when they’re hungry, and it creates a more welcoming experience.
Some hospitals are hesitant to offer room service because they think it will cost more money. There are some initial costs that come when implementing a room service model.
Hospitals will have to invest in new software and equipment. Training staff members is another cost. However, room service can help lower costs over time by reducing food waste.
Improve the Retail Cafeteria
Not all the food served in a hospital feeds patients. Doctors, nurses, staff, and even visitors need meal options. How does this impact the patient’s experience?
If the retail cafeteria food is terrible, family members are sure to complain about it. This type of negativity can have a profound impact on the healing process.
Furthermore, it’s not uncommon for patients to leave poor reviews based on the experience their visitors had in the retail cafeteria.
Hospitals should look for ways to improve their retail cafeteria options. Having an extended menu of healthy, affordable meals isn’t only advantageous to visitors and staff. In some areas, hospitals that serve high-quality food can even draw in community customers, including seniors.
The healthier the community eats, the less likely they are to be admitted for preventable illnesses.
Hospitals exist to make people better, and hospital food helps prevent malnutrition. However, there’s no reason for hospitals to sacrifice taste when it comes times to serve dinner.
Offering delicious and nutritious food options to patients is one of the best ways to reduce readmission rates and create a healthier community.