Marty’s Corner: Your Department’s Role in the Patient’s Experience
If you asked any hospital director of food & nutrition services (FNS) what his or her goals would be for a patient during a stay at his or her facility, the response would most likely include the word, satisfaction, or more specifically, high satisfaction. What factors can contribute to that level of satisfaction? We normally might first think of food temperature, ie, “hot foods hot, cold foods cold”, and, of course, accuracy of trays and its important role in patient safety. What other factors under the control of FNS can contribute to a positive experience for the patient?
In an article from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics still in press, the authors cite several factors that can help increase patient satisfaction. 1 Many of those mentioned focus on regular communication with the patient – explaining why he or she is on a modified diet, obtaining his or her food preferences, thoroughly explaining the facility’s menu selection process, conducting meal rounds, and adequately reviewing discharge planning.
Room service is a dining option the authors call “often preferred”. They also note that even a positive experience in retail foodservice areas for family members can indirectly increase patient satisfaction by the positive impression given, thereby helping to lessen the patient’s worry when visitors arrive.
Automation can assist in all these processes, including: Recording patient food preferences and allergies in software that then uses that information in its menu correcting functions to ensure that the patient never receives inappropriate items – and retaining that information for future admissions; offering a mobile option for obtaining patient menu selections, bringing FNS staff face-to-face with the patient regularly – another factor in itself that contributes to patient satisfaction; offering menu selection via the in-room “edutainment” system; and efficient point-of-sale operations in retail areas, contributing to a positive experience for the patient’s visitors. So, while keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold does matter, it’s just one of many ways that FNS can do its part to create that positive patient experience.
1Rollins C, Dobak S. Creating a great patient experience: improving care with food and nutrition services. J Acad Nutr Diet; in press.
Article by: Marty Yadrick, MBI, MS, RDN, FAND - Director of Nutrition Informatics and former President of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; Fusion, 3rd Quarter, 2017