European hospitals have an opportunity – some might say a necessity – to align business objectives with the goal of improving patients’ Quality of Life. In fact, this may prove their best strategy to weather the storm of unstable funding and increased competition.
After years of competing for the best doctors and medical equipment and the most advanced technology, the crucial differentiator for hospitals and health care providers has become patient satisfaction. And there is no surer way to achieve patient satisfaction than by improving their Quality of Life during their time in hospital.
Sodexo has special expertise in improving the Quality of Life of patients. Over the past 40 years in some 4,000 health care facilities worldwide, Sodexo has been providing clinical support services with the wellbeing of patients foremost in mind. This experience has led Sodexo to a genuine understanding of patient requirements and to continually develop and deploy new Quality of Life services.
Allowing patients more control
The loss of control patients can feel in their situation plays a key role in their level of satisfaction. Anxiety and distress are often an inevitable part of a hospital stay. The uncertainties of disease and treatment, waiting times, boredom, fatigue, isolation from family and friends – all these factors contribute to a sense of powerlessness. It’s a feeling that may take hold as soon as the patient arrives, when his or her clothing is replaced by a generic hospital gown and a plastic wristband.
Small gestures can make all the difference when it comes to restoring a patient’s sense of control. Simply giving patients the freedom to choose what, where and when they eat can lead to greater patient satisfaction and to overall improvement in Quality of Life.
Room Service Dining® frees staff and cheers patients
For this reason Sodexo developed an offer for patients to order when and what they like from an extensive menu, provided the kitchen is open and the food meets their physician’s requirements. At Your Request – Room Service Dining® delivers freshly prepared meals to the patient in under 45 minutes. Data from two pilot programs in the US – a 300-bed university hospital and an 800+ bed, 3-campus facility – convincingly demonstrates that personal dining drives patient satisfaction. The At Your Request offer is also strongly supported by hospital nurses. When Sodexo handles the A to Z of meal provision from the patient’s order, through preparation and delivery, nurses are free to focus on their primary occupation – caring for patients.
And as empowered patients mean more satisfied patients, this offer has led to more comfortable working conditions for nurses and other hospital staff.
Bonus benefits in reduced costs
In addition to happier and better-nourished patients, and more contented and efficient nurses, there is another upside to the At Your Request® program: reduced food costs and less waste. When patients can order what and how much food they want, fewer meals are returned uneaten. Data from the 350 North American hospitals were the At Your Request® program was initially rolled out shows that food costs are consistently lower, with an average savings of between 7 to 8%.
In Europe, after a successful 3-month trial on 3 wards (85 beds), Gelderse Vallei Hospital in the Netherlands signed a 7-year contract with Sodexo to implement At Your Request® in the hospital as of 2012. The hospital board stated, “At Your Request® will be the driver of culture change in our hospital.” This partnership will be a showcase for the European health care markets while helping Gelderse Vallei stand out from the competition.