Obamacare encourages improved healthcare foodservice

Foodservice shown to improve patient satisfaction scores, which increases federal funds.

June 24—When patients don't mind staying in the hospital for an extra day, citing the great food, you know the stereotype of healthcare foodserivce has been changed.

Administrators at hospitals such as Rex Healthcare, in Chapel Hill, N.C., say the focus on food has taken on extra importance since Medicare last year began paying them based partly on their patient-satisfaction scores, a change that is part of the new federal health care law.

While Medicare's surveys do not ask about food, Rex administrators believe their culinary efforts help explain their better-than-average overall satisfaction rates. About 84% of Rex patients surveyed said they would recommend the hospital, compared with 71% nationally. "I have no doubt that raising the culinary bar improves our customer-satisfaction scores," said Chad Lefteris, vice president of operations at Rex.

Food-management companies that specialize in health care facilities say they are getting more requests from hospitals looking to boost their satisfaction scores for Medicare.

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Keeping costs in check is paramount in running a functioning food operation, of course. But the ripples of cost control can extend beyond your bottom line. And savvy directors must balance customer satisfaction on the P&L sheet.

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Orange County Community College in upstate New York is replacing its dining staff with vending machines , The Times Herald-Record reports.

The staff members, who will be let go in June, include nine full-time and three part-time workers. Students say they will miss the employees and the access to fresh food.

The Orange County Community College Association, which oversees the school’s cafeterias, says the layoffs were partly due to a $150,000 deficit accumulated by foodservice operations last year.

Read the full story via The Times Herald-Record .

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Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, is eliminating paper cups in its Commons dining hall and has given each student a reusable stainless steel mug as a replacement, bates.edu reports.

The mugs were distributed via a promotion earlier this week where students could fill their new mugs with a free smoothie. Stickers and other trinkets were set out for students to use to “bling” their mugs.

Dining services turned to students to determine which type of mug would be offered. The college also installed a mug-washing sink in the dining Commons earlier this year.

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Compass has partnered with Jose Andres ’ ThinkFoodGroup, allowing the chef and foodservice vendor to collaborate at such venues as stadiums and college campuses.

“With this partnership, we have the opportunity to tell stories and connect with people through food on an entirely new level,” Andres said in a release.

The three-year team-up comes shortly after Andres opened a ThinkFoodLab pop-up in Washington, D.C., which will serve as a recipe R&D space for his restaurant group.

ThinkFoodGroup was this year named a Power 20 multiconcept operator by Restaurant...

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