How Foodservice Management Solutions Can Help Hospitals Save Money and Provide Better Food Options for Staff, Patients and Visitors

Dec 19, 2022

Healthcare facilities are 24/7/365 operations, and their foodservice needs don't end at 5 o'clock. For many, they just begin.       

With options like 24-hour mobile ordering and self-serve kiosks, health care facilities are not only providing a service to patients and their visitors, they are offering convenience, quick service and more food choices to staff members – especially those who normally have limited options during overnight hours.

Foodservice management solutions (FSM) for the health care industry help hospitals automate patient nutritional requirements and dietary limitations through individual patient profiles and recipe management, plus they help reduce food waste, predict inventory needs and lower food costs. Hospitals now have several easy-to-use options that promote operational efficiency, and they provide more choices to patients, visitors and employees – ensuring an improved experience for all while on-site.

What Benefits do FSM Solutions Provide to Patients?

Health care FSM solutions are taking the guesswork away from patients and customizing their food choices based on their specific dietary requirements and nutritional needs. Through seamless communication between departments – from doctor to nutritionist to chef – patients can choose preapproved menu items as their profile is updated in real time and reflects any limitations or requirements as per their treatment plan. These FSM solutions are replacing antiquated manual processes like hand-written patient records prone to errors by automating the data placed in patient profiles and seamlessly generating the menu options available to them.

These individual patient profiles can be accessed by hospital staff whether the patient orders via the hospital's app on their mobile device, they order a meal through the call center, or if they require the assistance of a staff member in their room. FSM solutions are ensuring patient nutrition accuracy and safely providing them with the ability to choose meals that fit within their treatment plan.

How Can FSM Solutions Benefit Staff Members, Patient, and Visitors?

Statista reported that there were close to 15 billion mobile devices operating worldwide in 2021, and predicts that there will be 18.22 billion in use by 2025. That means that many individuals own or actively use two or more devices. Hospitals and other health care facilities that offer mobile solutions for FSM are making food and beverage options much more accessible to their patients, visitors and staff members, and they are implementing solutions that are not only convenient, but comfortable for these individuals to use.

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FSM solutions allow staff and visitors to customize their meals and easily order or pay for items from multiple outlets. They can order meals on demand from their own mobile devices or those provided by the hospital, and the menus on the hospital's app are updated in real time. Meals can be picked up at a specific location or can be delivered to visitors or staff members – saving them time and allowing them to stay with their patients. Individuals can enjoy a meal in the room with the patient who they are visiting, and employees don't have to leave their department to grab dinner. Hospital staff have very limited break time, so the convenience of not having to stop what they are doing to get food and offering meals on demand allow them to stay focused on their patients while still having a wide variety of items to choose from.

For those who are on-site during overnight hours when foodservice is typically limited, many health care facilities are implementing self-service food outlets like micro markets or kiosks that allow them to quickly choose food items and pay through a variety of payment options ranging from scanning a QR code on the check to being prompted to pay via credit card, options like Apple Pay®, or staff accounts accessed through their employee ID badge. This type of payment for staff members can be deducted from payroll or a prepaid account set up by the employee or the hospital. Employees can access their accounts and review any transactions or account balances from their mobile device at any time.

One option for 24-hour self service is a kiosk where the individual selects items and places them on a tray. Those items are automatically scanned all at once and a total is presented to the purchaser for them to select their preferred payment option. Self-service kiosks are another great option for grab-and-go in fast-paced environments like hospitals where downtime is limited for staff, and visitors do not want to leave a patient's side for long periods of time.

How Can FSM Solutions Help with Our Current Staffing Shortage?

Like many industries, the health care industry is struggling with staffing challenges and has been forced to find ways to do more with fewer employees. FSM or foodservice management technology is the solution to many challenges these facilities are facing. If hospitals implement FSM solutions, they will help improve job satisfaction and alleviate some of the stress their staff members experience during their shifts, and they have a much better chance of retaining their best employees.

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By allowing patients and their visitors to order food on demand through a mobile device, hospitals are limiting the need for bedside assistance and reducing call center volume for the facility's foodservice staff. These FSM solutions are helping hospitals maximize operational efficiency on the patient floors and behind the scenes.

Hospitals are helping create more time for staff by offering them the convenience of self-service kiosks that are available 24/7 and the flexibility of mobile ordering for meals that can be delivered directly to them. They no longer have to wait in lines that eat up their valuable and limited break time. These health care facilities are ensuring staff members do not have to skip a meal or interrupt important tasks by providing them with different options regardless of the time of day. With options like these, they have more time to focus on their patients without leaving their department or floor, and these facilities are better able to optimize the staff members they have available.

How Can These Solutions Help Our Facility's Bottom Line?

Behind-the-scenes features like menu costing and recipe management help healthcare facilities save money by predicting inventory needs, reducing food costs, and decreasing food waste. Fewer call center employees are needed as the call volume is greatly reduced when a health care facility provides different options like on demand mobile ordering or self-service kiosks and micro markets. FSM solutions are not only providing convenience and the benefit of multiple food choices throughout the day, they are maximizing operational efficiency across multiple departments, and automating many of the manual tasks associated with meal ordering, patient food directives, inventory management and budgeting, and most of all, they are streamlining the food ordering and payment processes.

These solutions work across the full organization and benefit patients, visitors, staff members and the health care facility or parent company itself. While these hospitals are offering better meal options to patients and their visitors, these facilities are optimizing the staff they have on hand and providing them with better food choices during day and overnight shifts and carving out more time for them to spend focused on their patients. Through FSM technology, health care facilities are meeting two of their most important objectives: Elevating patient satisfaction scores and retaining their best staff members.

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