Challenges and Recent Trends in HealthCare Food Service Operations

Here are some of the recent trends existing, along with their challenges, and even some of the challenges that have lead to trends in the food service operations in healthcare establishments:

Trends

  1. Informed Dining

Informed Dining is something like a requirement for customers to know what is in their food. For some of the Health Care Centers in the United States, the food service establishments, such as cafeterias, coffee shops…etc., need to display the nutritional value of the food items they serve. For example, just like how we can see the calories and ingredient of items we buy from the supermarket, a similar approach is used for the items which customers can read before placing their orders.

In a sense, this also acts as a challenge to the food service provider, as competitors may take it as an opportunity to know the ingredients of the food items the establishment produces.

  1. Strategic Seating

The traditional way of simply ordering food and eating is no longer something that can create a satisfying environment, especially in a healthcare service area, where different people have different personalities and dining preferences.

Thus, strategic seating refers to incorporating more seating options in the area where people can dine, e.g. high stools for bar area, sofas, tables and chairs…etc. This way people can choose places and ways to sit based on their preference. Different area may also have different purposes, e.g. a bar like area would be more of a social and energetic area for people to socialize with. Whereas, the outdoor areas may be more of a calm place for people to reflect on thoughts.

  1. Rise of Technology

With the rise of technology, it has helped healthcare food service operations a lot. Now they have the opportunity to function more like a hotel, rather than how they used to in the traditional days. It also gives them more flexibility to calculate the food items and the nutritional values when serving the customer, to ensure that the intake is correct.

Moreover, it also helps the healthcare establishment to control its cost, as fewer mistakes are made and the order quantity is more exact. The quality of the food can also be enhanced due to technology in terms of food preparation and execution.

Challenges

  1. Cost

One of the challenges for food service operations in healthcare facilities include maintaining the cost and tastiness of the food.

Thus, in order to deal with this issue, an alternative of using less traditional meat parts are used to serve their customers. One of the reasons is because the price of meat is divided based on which part one is purchasing. By purchasing less purchased parts, such as chicken thighs, it can still be cooked in ways to create a mouthwatering dish based on the support and mix with other food-items.

2. Customer living on the Facility
Another challenge would be to those that have their customers living on the facility. This is because customers may feel tired of having to eat similar food on a regular basis. It would eventually affect their thoughts of eating and even of having to stay at the healthcare area.

Thus, in order to deal with this issue, more variations are now provided to customers. Also instead of a cafeteria, where customers are normally given food, they now have more options to choose and freely pick what they want to eat and that nutritional limitations allow. Moreover, cyclical menus are also adopted to enhance the experience of such customers.

Reflections
Based on what we learnt in class and also knowing that the elderly market are those mostly inclined to having to use this service on a regular basis. The importance of it being better and catering to the needs of customers are essential, especially social needs and even getting the dietary requirements right. It can be seen how much thought needs to be put to really get these new initiatives and actions into place the right way.

Reference:

  1. Gfs.com,. ‘Starting From Scratch: Trends For Healthcare Food Service Meals’. N.p., 2015. Web. 8 Nov. 2015.
  2. Healthcaredesignmagazine.com,. ‘Good Taste: Designing Healthcare Dining Spaces’. N.p., 2015. Web. 8 Nov. 2015.
  3. Healthyfamiliesbc.ca,. ‘Informed Dining In Health Care Facilities | Healthy Families BC’. N.p., 2015. Web. 8 Nov. 2015.
  4. Todaysdietitian.com,. ‘That’S Progress — Advancements In Hospital Foodservice’. N.p., 2015. Web. 8 Nov. 2015.
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