CBORD Insights: Getting Room Service Right

CBORD Insights: Getting Room Service Right

Today, many hospitals are interested in providing patients, guests, and staff with more dining options and choices. On-demand room service is a particular area of focus based on popular demand: In a recent CBORD Insights study, nearly all surveyed patients said they would like to have room service available during their hospital stay.

“Room service and choice are key to the patient experience, and hospitals want to deliver,” says Sarah Myers, director of product management, at CBORD. “But when people can pick and choose from a variety of meal options and times—rather than everyone eating the same things at the same time—it can be hard on the nutrition department and its operations. There’s a lot of potential for chaos.” As many hospitals have found, automation is the key to doing it right—and that’s especially true for connected systems that integrate data and operations across departments and facilities.

Today’s connected foodservice systems make it possible to automate and orchestrate much of the patient ordering, meal preparation, and meal-delivery process to provide hotel-style dining with high levels of accuracy and efficiency. Often, this connected technology is available as cloud-based SaaS, which means that it can be implemented quickly with minimal need for investment and IT support.

Increasingly, self-service ordering for patients is an important part of these solutions—especially mobile ordering using tablets or smartphones. “Mobile apps can provide personalized menus that show each patient only meal items that are compliant with their nutritional needs,” says Myers. This type of ordering is not just convenient, it reduces the time hospital-floor and call-center employees spend taking orders and also prevents food waste.

The impact of connected technology and self-service can be seen in the experience of El Centro Regional Medical Center, a regional acute-care hospital in California’s Imperial Valley. Working with CBORD, that organization implemented a full suite of integrated solutions to manage foodservice, including on-demand room service and mobile ordering. The result, according to Marc Walters, the center’s food service director: Food costs per patient dropped 15% and labor hours per meals increased only 3%, even as workloads increased 9%.

Beyond patient convenience and more efficient operations, connected technology can also link up with patient records systems to help ensure that nutritionists and foodservice are providing meals that meet the often-strict dietary requirements of patients.

Connected technology also opens the door to increased foodservice revenue by enabling visitors to easily order meals in patient rooms or the cafeteria. In fact, more than 40 percent of patients responding to the CBORD Insights survey said they had already ordered room service for a guest; about one-third said they didn’t know this was possible, suggesting that they might have, had they known.

Hotel-style foodservice can increase patient satisfaction, which can in turn pay off in far-reaching ways. Nearly half of the patients in the CBORD Insights research said that foodservice had a significant impact on their experience—and more than three-quarters said it would affect their choice of hospital in the future. For their part, hospital leaders ranked the delivery of a good patient experience as one of the top challenges they face, while more than half said that it would have a “high” or “very high” impact on their organizations in the next three years. And about two-thirds said that meal service affects the overall patient experience “very much.”

Across industries, increased operational efficiency and a better customer experience go hand-in-hand. That’s especially true in hospital food service, where connected foodservice systems can provide a double benefit: keeping costs down while enhancing patient satisfaction.


*CBORD Insights™ Patient Experience survey, March 2023. N=180 C-suite/VP-level administrators in Acute Care, Government and Private Hospital Systems and N=100 patient respondents.

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