While much attention has been given to the strategy of giving patients more choice over meal options via restaurant-style, spoken and other menu techniques, Baptist Health emphasizes the use of a traditional pre-select menu while still achieving Press-Ganey patient satisfaction scores in the 90+ range.
“We believe the pre-select model gives us a chance to focus on timeliness and quality rather than on the quantity of available selections,” says Feeney. “Since our forecasts showed labor availability would continue to shrink in the future, we felt we’d be better off focusing on a quality product and our process rather than on labor-intensive choice-based systems.” If necessary, patients still have other options that the hostess can order on an as-needed basis.
The patient menu focuses on regional tastes and popular comfort foods. “We eliminated a lot of steps and many of the delays in providing timely service to patients,” Feeney says, noting that the move simplified tray line operations, production and training needs. “And, when it came time to actually re-construct our kitchen, the streamlined production system really facilitated our transition.”
Originally put in place seven years ago, Baptist’s pre-select menu and the “Express Menu” program helped the department eliminate 22 FTEs, many of them employed in passing menus and processing selections. “Late tray” procedures were largely eliminated.
“We also partnered with the nursing staff to help us provide the Express meals on an ondemand basis,” Feeney explains, noting that a standing par level of frozen meals, milk and other items are now maintained as basic floor stock.
“Our thinking has been that if a patient comes back from a test or a scheduled X-ray and are able to immediately offer them a choice of popular selections that will tide them over until the next meal time, that timeliness will contribute more to patient satisfaction than letting them order and wait for a selection from the central kitchen.