When a person must stay in a hospital for treatment of a disease or to undergo an operation, they need to have attractive, nutritious food to eat. It is up to the hospital to provide these meals. Meals are an important part of the patient experience in a hospital, and every hospital is challenged to give its patients the best experience possible under unpleasant circumstances of illness and injury treatment.
The Hospital Experience and Food
Morrison Healthcare plays an important part in helping their client hospitals provide high-quality, safe meals and care for their patients. Every hospital has a goal of improving its patient satisfaction scores. There are ongoing trends for the care of patients and the meals they are served that ensure happier patients and better health outcomes.
Morrison has patient experience teams that help hospitals improve their services and patient satisfaction by making improvements. These teams train health care personnel to improve patient care and improve the HCAHPS scores.
Foods as Medicine, changes in Definitions
In the last two years, many consumers have changed their idea about what foods are healthy and why. Because of these findings by experts, more hospitals and other health care facilities all over America are changing the way they think about those hospital meals served to patients. They are considering food to be part of the medicine for their patients.
Hospitals are focusing on food and its part inpatient health and recovery, leading to programs where some patients are sent home with a week’s worth of healthy food. Some hospitals in poor areas or food deserts have opened non-profit grocery stores to provide patients with healthy food options when they leave the hospital. Still, other hospitals have added teaching kitchens to help patients learn to prepare healthier meals at home.
Other hospitals are seeking ways to add healthy or nutrition-rich foods to the meals they serve patients. The trick is to serve healthy meals that patients will consider good-tasting and enjoyable to eat. Some call it “stealth health.” This is achieved by replacing some ingredients that are not healthy with healthier choices. This can involve things like replacing white sugar with honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar. Fats can be replaced with nut butter, yogurt, and applesauce.
More New Food-service Trends
There are new trends for everyone eating in hospitals, including everything from the trays taken to rooms to hospital cafeterias. Some new trends include:
- Improved patient room service where patients are able to order a la carte for all their meals. The choices are guided by each patient’s dietary issues. This trend is good for the hospital kitchen as well as the patients because it eliminates the pressure of three bulk food prep and delivery schedules. This program reduces food waste and actually holds down food costs.
- The hospital cafeteria turned into a dining destination for hospital workers, patients’ families, and community members. Hospitals are upgrading their cafeterias with better menus and services as well as a more attractive environment.
- Cuisine choices are expanded to include more ethnic flavors to bridge cultures and offer more variety in meals.
- Plant-based menus are used more, with fresh salads and more vegetables included in inpatient meals. Vegetables are fresher and often locally sourced.
- Hospitals are experimenting with community outreach programs, such as wellness workshops, where healthy cooking techniques are taught to area residents. The workshops promote healthy lifestyles and better nutrition choices for meals.
In short, modern foodservice trends are to provide more healthy food to patients and upgrade hospital cafeterias and outreach programs to engage the community and encourage healthier eating for better health in the community.