Marty’s Corner: Patient Satisfaction Depends on Multiple Factors
If any of us were asked what factors contribute to patient satisfaction with respect to foodservice in a hospital, we would probably all come up with answers such as food temperature, staff courtesy, or variety of food offered. In a systematic review published earlier this year1, a total of 31 studies on this topic were compared and discussed. The facilities were from all over the world, including the USA (where the majority of the studies were conducted), Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Italy, and Iran. Most of the facilities were acute care hospitals; a few were conducted on geriatric units or at residential aged care facilities, and others focused specifically on pediatric patients. Astoundingly, a factor not mentioned anywhere in the review was the use of software to automate nutrition & foodservice departments (NFS); this could be a result of the reviewers’ focus rather than omission from mention in any specific study. Regardless, though, this certainly could be a charge for each of us to conduct more research in this area.
Factors Contributing to Satisfaction
Among the findings were that patients rated their experience with NFS higher if a survey was filled out while still admitted vs. after discharge. As the authors suggest, a patient may feel more comfortable being honest after they’ve departed the facility. Some of the studies noted increased patient satisfaction when meal trays are delivered by NFS personnel than when delivered by nursing employees. Attitude of staff, both when delivering menus and meals, rated high with respect to achieving patient satisfaction. One study noted increased patient satisfaction when there was “choice at the point of consumption”, such as with food trolleys brought up to the floor. In another study, patient satisfaction went from “good” to “very good” after the implementation of a spoken menu. In several studies, a wider variety of food choices, in most cases precipitated by implementation of a room service system, increased patient satisfaction. This was especially noted in pediatric wards or facilities. Temperature of hot foods was reported several times as another important factor in patient satisfaction.
Hospital Foodservice Software Increases Your Scores
What role can automation play in helping improve patient satisfaction scores? If staff no longer have to manually head or correct patient menus or write out nourishment labels, potentially hours of their time could be available for more in-person contact with patients. Implementation of a room service program can be enhanced by automation when patient selections are made with a NFS staff person at bedside, then meal tickets immediately print out in their respective production areas. Typical room service menus include many more choices than traditional menus. Tray tracking features can easily locate the progress of a patient’s tray from the kitchen to his or her room, which could help ensure that the food is at desirable temperatures. All these features, enhanced by automation, can help ensure that all factors that contribute to patient satisfaction are given their best shot.
- Dall’Oglio I, Nicolò R, Di Ciommo V, et al. A systematic review of hospital foodservice patient satisfaction studies. J Acad Nutr Diet 2015; 115(4): 567-584.
Article by: Marty Yadrick, MBI, MS, RDN, FAND - Director of Nutrition Informatics and former President of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; Fusion, 1st Quarter, 2016