Coffee fuels patient, customer satisfaction in healthcare

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Offering a robust coffee program has become an increasingly important element in ensuring patient, employee and visitor satisfaction in the healthcare segment.

As healthcare providers seek to improve the patient experience with same-day appointments, convenient hours, satellite locations and welcoming environments, they are also relying on their foodservice offerings—and coffee in particular—to enhance that experience.

Coffee can provide a familiar and comforting respite from the challenges that patients and their loved ones might be dealing with in the healthcare environment.

“For our patients, it sometimes provides a level of comfort and reminds them of sitting at home having their coffee around the kitchen table,” says Seth Grant, general manager of culinary services and business operations at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis.

In addition, Eskenazi Health employees often cite coffee as a key element of their morning routines.

“Whatever the reasons might be, we know that coffee is important to those that we serve, so from the first cup of the day to the last, we always make sure it is the best cup of coffee we can possibly provide,” Grant says.

Although coffee has always been an important staple in healthcare foodservice, Grant says patients, visitors and staff at Eskenazi Health have been taking a deeper interest in coffee quality in recent years. He also noted that coffee’s appeal is widespread and crosses many cultures and economic statuses.

Research shows that consumers are interested in coffee in the healthcare environment. In fact, 38% of consumers said they ordered regular hot coffee during their last hospital visit, according to Technomic’s 2017 Hot & Cold Beverage Multi-Study. Another 10% ordered regular iced coffee, which outperformed hot chocolate, dairy milk and smoothies.

At breakfast, coffee is a close second to eggs as the most preferred element of hospital meals, according to Technomic’s report.

Healthcare operators have a myriad of options when it comes to merchandising coffee in their facilities, from coffee kiosks and vending machines in hospital lobbies and waiting rooms to full-scale coffee shops to coffee stations in food courts and cafeterias.

Fully automated systems like Select Brew from Smucker Away From Home can dispense high-quality, fresh, hot coffee at the touch of a button. Some models also allow operators to offer iced coffee and specialty coffee drinks.

Pairing coffee with items such as breakfast sandwiches, snacks and pastries can be an effective way to boost sales throughout the day, as can afternoon coffee “happy hours.” Seasonal flavors, limited-time offers and other specials can also spark interest and excitement around coffee offerings.

Incorporating a variety of coffee drinks into the menu for on-demand room service is another way to increase patient satisfaction. Bottled iced coffee, cold brew coffee and freshly brewed coffee can also be offered to patients via floor nutrition stations.

Providing a robust and convenient network for satisfying coffee demand is also a way to capture business that might otherwise be lost to outside coffee concepts.

“Coffee provides both an energy boost and an emotional boost,” says Casey Atwood, director of Food & Nutritional Services at Arkansas Heart Hospital in Little Rock.

“Never underestimate a good cup of coffee,” he says. “I would say that coffee is a very important component of our daily operation. From our staff that loves our self-serve gourmet coffee machine to our patients and families on the patient floors, everyone is looking for a good cup of coffee.”

Americans have embraced the comforting qualities that coffee provides, and coffee clearly plays an important role in shaping the perceptions of healthcare facility patients, visitors and employees.

This post is sponsored by Smucker Foodservice