Posted by Patrick Maness
Many people think of a hospital as a place with bad food and a lot of pills. Fair or unfair, it has unfortunately been the case that hospital patients aren’t fed the most nutritious meals. Instead, hospitals rely on supplements to deliver the nutrients patients need — a practice that might be easy, but does not reflect the best patient-care practices.
Across the country, hospitals are working to change this. Informed by dieticians, chefs and catering companies are working to develop and create meals that meet the dietary and nutritional needs of patients. As a result, companies are discovering new ways to streamline their practices and share their passion for food with patients.
Clinical nutritionist and chefs
Dieticians play many different roles in a hospital. Oftentimes they work with individual patients to monitor their nutritional intake or prevent malnutrition in at-risk patients.
Dieticians have also begun to work with those in the foodservice sectors of the hospital to plan and develop menus and food options that can meet a range of patient needs. These more nutritious meals have also caught the attention of non-patients, and many hospitals have seen their revenue increase as visitors from the community begin to visit the hospital for a meal, reports Modern Healthcare.
Technology’s helping hand
Many hospitals have switched to à la carte foodservice and have modeled their kitchens to more closely resemble hotel kitchens ready to provide room service. This is a big shift from the once-standard cafeteria-style kitchen and service.
What makes this service better for patients is that they can order food based on the recommendations of their dietician or doctor.
To streamline the process, many hospitals have partnered with technology companies that help manage cost, quality and nutrition. For instance, in some hospitals, a nurse can enter the doctor’s prescribed diet into a program that automatically converts it into a personalized menu from which the patient can order. Such a system reduces food waste and, in the end, leads to savings.
Technology and dietary science combine to help hospitals cut costs, streamline services and take better care of their patients. Ultimately, the dieticians and catering companies working together in hospitals are re-emphasizing the importance of food.
Such models can be transferred easily to restaurants or other sectors of the foodservice industry where technology, science and a passion for food can create loyal customers.
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