Surviving Shortages: Using technology to deliver more with less

Morning in a hospital: Nurse Ed is just coming off his shift on the cardiac care floor. He was able to leave without worrying about his patient’s special dietary needs. He knows the kitchen is feeding her according to post-surgical guidelines. Items she doesn’t like, or that aren’t available due to supply issues, will be substituted with nutritional equivalents. Things she shouldn’t eat will be excluded from her menus so they can’t be ordered.

Ed’s glad his hospital invested in on-demand room service with an app that lets patients safely self-order, especially since staffing shortages have made things tougher. Now, he can focus on patient care rather than taking valuable time to enter meal selections. He was also able to show his patient’s spouse how to order food from the cafeteria using an app that lets visitors and staff easily order from onsite foodservice or nearby merchants. So, Ed doesn’t have to worry about leaving a hungry couple. He can swing by the to-go counter to grab his pre-ordered coffee and muffin, which has already been deducted from his employee card balance. When systems are connected, life is just a little bit easier for everyone on the hospital campus.

Ask anyone working on a hospital campusChart showing impact of staffing shortages in healthcare, and they’ll confirm they are not immune to the market disruptions affecting virtually all businesses. In a recent CBORD Insights* survey of acute-care foodservice professionals, 80% or more said they are experiencing staffing shortages, supply chain problems, and the effects of inflation on a regular basis. And many said this is having an impact on their ability to provide the food services that patients and staff need.

Technology offers multiple tools to help address market disruptions. On-demand room service software allows staff to take meal selections at the bedside using a mobile device, and
a mobile app lets patients use a hospital-provided device or their own smartphone to make meal selections from compliant options. Centralized foodservice management can increase efficiency and reduce waste, helping to address supply chain and inflation issues. Automated self-serve kiosks can help address labor shortages while enabling staff and visitors to grab and go. The list goes on.

But with system automation, the ultimate value lies not just in each individual solution, but in the synergies created across facilities. Not unlike college campuses, healthcare systems can employ integrated systems to improve the overall patient and staff experience. Too often hospitals use different platforms across facilities, functions, and locations. With food system automation, they can command a full suite of solutions that support patient nutrition, foodservice, staff purchases, and more.

 

Patient using device with a meal tray in the hospital

A connected system offers system administrators full control over operations, along with a complete look at data and insights, which are key to increasing efficiency, consistency, and satisfaction. For example, hospitals can closely monitor foodservice across a network of facilities to track supply usage and adjust menus to manage inventory and costs. System integration also means that more data — from internal and external sources such as vendors — is available for analytics, leading to deeper insights and sharper predictive capabilities. The hospital system can then take a more data-driven approach to managing operational costs and delivering the right experiences to patients and employees. Data may also point to new revenue streams, such as transaction fees from off-campus delivery services. In short, integration gives decision-makers more operational levers of control.

Finally, system automation helps make a healthcare system more agile in the face of ongoing change. With a data-driven view of the impacts, decision makers can respond with greater speed and precision to labor shortages, supply chain issues, inflation, and other disruptions. And with the centralized systems, new tools and capabilities can be brought online without costly, complicated development projects. Enable your system to face challenges and change through connectivity.

CBORD Insights proprietary research, Customer Priorities Survey, September 2022, n=276.

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