Bet on renovated dining facilities and punched-up customer service in the healthcare foodservice industry. A recent membership survey conducted by the National Society for Healthcare Foodservice Management (HFM) collected responses from 271 HFM healthcare food and nutrition professionals across North America.
The survey asked about such things as patient meal service, retail restaurants, practices and operations with an aim of highlighting trends, recording demographics and tracking changes in the industry. HFM President Mary Angela Miller predicted “more modern facilities with a variety of services and options.” Miller, administrative director for Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus, OH, also noted a focus on making the customer happy.
The survey found more than half of respondents planning major construction or remodeling projects at their facilities, expecting to break ground within two years. The expected price tag exceeded $800,000 for about 40 percent of those planning a construction project.
An overarching trend in the healthcare foodservice industry includes room service. It's a model that's catching on, with 37 percent of respondents reporting room service at their facility, and a quarter of those who do just began implementing it within the past year. Signs certainly point to room service being no flash in the pan when it comes to customer satisfaction: 74 percent of respondents said their patient satisfaction scores shot up after room service was introduced.
Among the other findings were that more than half of the operators surveyed use a retail cashless system, allowing customers to pay for their hospital cafeteria meals with a convenient prepaid card, key or online service.
Through the survey, HFM also found out some information about some of its associate members, suppliers and distributors to the healthcare foodservice industry. About 60 of these members were surveyed, and for more than half of them, healthcare makes up at least 30 percent of their sales.
Many of the suppliers and distributors — 41 percent — said they were healthcare foodservice operators in previous careers.
HFM associate member and Industry Advisory Council chair Marie Nelson, a registered dietitian and director of customer marketing at Schwan's Food Service Inc., Marshall, MN, summed up one of survey's intended results: “The results of this survey will be used by HFM associate members to develop products and services for the healthcare foodservice industry.”