The Switch to Room Service Moves Satisfaction Scores into the 100th Percentile at Southern Ohio Medical Center

Southern Ohio Medical Center (SOMC) is a 222-bed hospital in Portsmouth, Ohio, providing emergency and surgical care, as well as a wide range of other healthcare services. In January 2010, the hospital switched its menu selection process to CBORD® Room Service. At the time they were using Professional Research Consultants (PRC) to measure patient satisfaction, and Nutrition Services scored below the 10th percentile for the question related to food service. Last month the department was scoring in the 100th percentile, and for the year, they are creeping up past the 90th percentile. The change is significant and has contributed to the overall satisfaction score for the hospital.

"Room Service changed everything," said Nicki Welch, Chief Clinical Dietitian for SOMC. "We needed to improve our patient satisfaction scores, and we decided to move to a room service process. We invested money, time, and effort into the project, and we are getting the results we had hoped for."

Welch recommends that hospitals making this transition have staff team up with a room service consultant and take advantage of the consultant's knowledge. Having help with planning, training, recipe development, and kitchen design was an important reason why SOMC's project succeeded from the beginning. They used and recommend Room Service Technologies to help implement a room service program.


The implementation of CBORD's Room Service 200 solution at SOMC required support from many areas of the hospital. A cross-functional team was created that involved Information Systems, Community Relations, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Nutrition Services for the process. Together they planned the transformation and communicated to each group regarding how this would affect them. One major change that Welch noted was the kitchen redesign.

"You can't cook for Room Service in a traditional hospital kitchen; you need a cook-to-order setup that supports the Room Service process," she said.

Prior to implementation, the hospital went through a kitchen redesign and made changes to accommodate a grill station, hot and cold prep, and a cart staging area.


The success of Room Service is often a result of many changes that occur when a hospital moves to Room Service. In the case of SOMC, many different changes took place during the transition. New recipes were developed, using more spices and less salt and fat. The presentation was improved with more attention paid to how the food looks on the tray; there are now photographs of each dish, so everyone knows how it should be presented. A new menu was developed that had a range of foods that work well in the room service environment (salmon happens to be one of their most popular dishes). And, a new name was chosen—Seasonal Selections—along with a new logo and uniform for the ambassadors.

The Call Center

Three clerks support the Room Service operation during peak meal periods. The call center currently accepts orders from 6:45 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. They are planning to open again from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. to serve patients who would like to get a meal in the middle of the night.

"We are here for our patients to make them happy," Welch said.

The carts hold twelve trays and once one tray is loaded, a timer is set for fifteen minutes. When the timer beeps the cart goes up to the patients no matter how many trays are on it. A transporter takes the tray up to the floor where an ambassador delivers the meal to the patient. SOMC uses disposable paper menus that are handed out and explained by the ambassadors.

Diabetic Patients

SOMC has a unique way of handling diabetic patients. To make it easier for the nursing staff to monitor and give insulin, they ask that diabetic patients order around meal periods. They are permitted to order breakfast between 7:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., lunch between 11:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., and dinner between 4:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. When the tray is delivered the ambassador contacts the nurse to let that person know that the meal is in the room. This allows the nursing staff to be better prepared to handle the patient's insulin needs.

Patients Who Can't Order

When a patient is unable to order, the staff tries to find a family member who can order for the patient, or they will take an order at the bedside and use the advance meal order. The non-select meal option is always the last resort.


With the help of a consultant, Welch and her team developed a training manual to teach staff how to provide exceptional customer service and diet education both in person and over the phone. The hospital is focused on customer service, and all staff members participate in a program called AIDET, which stands for Acknowledge, Introduce, Duration, Explain, Thank you. This model for customer service is part of the Studer Group's Hardwiring for Excellence customer training program.

The team at SOMC put in a great deal of hard work: it is now paying off. SOMC food service is moving to the 100th percentile, and their employees are very proud of all they have accomplished. We at CBORD are also proud to have been able to support this change with our Room Service 200 solution.