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.