When you think of “hospital food,” words like “gourmet,” “sustainable,” or “farm-to-table” generally aren’t the first to come to mind. Kevin Dorr, Senior Vice President for Culinary Strategy and Innovation at Morrison Healthcare is on a mission to transform patient dining.
How We Can Rethink Patient Dining
At Morrison Healthcare, we continually ask ourselves: why can’t hospital food really hit the spot? We have the soul of a hospitality company and that means we understand that our patients are people with expectations about what food should taste like. We feel proud of our chef-centric, customer-focused approach to patient dining, and this makes all the difference to those we serve every day.
And we know patient dining. We have our feet on the ground, three meals a day, 365 days a year at over 1,000 locations in North America, delivering over 160 million patient meals— and serving over 200 million retail customers. We continue to deliver the latest and greatest, and this experience begins with the presentation. Most of us start eating with our eyes first, so we worked to redesign the presentation of our trays to make them more appealing. How we place the food on the plate, the color, and its visual appeal, the garnish, and the vessel, all work together to communicate the message that we know what “right” looks like.
The menu itself is an opportunity to communicate our customer-focused approach. Words matter. We are changing not only our language, but also, our mindset. This is not patient food. It is great food, served to patients. We offer our clients a suite of specialty menus that are designed to both offer variety and accommodate health needs that patients crave. And elevating the patient experience directly relates to rotating menus–and to seasonality–with fresh being unarguably better for a person who is healing.
By creating seasonal inserts, we can update our menus and keep our offerings customer-centric, on trend, and fresh. We are using better analytics, based on real-time patient data, to help operators streamline offerings to align with patient needs, to respond to regional preferences, and to embrace regional culture and diversity. Here’s the best part: no one has to redesign their entire menu just to change things up.
But hospitality is about more than food. It is about experiences. And our operators and chefs create amazing experiences every day. Our Fiesta De Mayo celebratory menu features street corn salad with fresh avocado, red onion, tomato, grilled chicken topped with creamy chipotle dressing. And if there’s room for dessert,a mini bundt cake drizzled with caramelized milk and dusted with cinnamon. We offer celebration menus for Mother’s and Father’s Day, and cookie party kits for our Children’s hospital patients. Everybody loves a good idea, and our teams share best practices with pride. Creating surprise and delight moments encourages our FOH and BOH teams to work better, together, understanding how they can add a touch of warmth in a hospital setting.
And speaking of warmth, let’s talk about coffee. A great cup straight out of the pot can provide both an energy and an emotional boost to patients, caregivers and staff. And we know over 60 percent of clients want their beverages accessible on the floor nutrition stations, where they can engage with that distinct aroma first thing in the morning. We are listening to our patients. Something as simple as a better cup of coffee to start your day can make all the difference. And this solution, like many we are rolling out, can actually save our clients money in the long run.
Rethinking patient dining is both an art and a science. Listening to trends and feedback, sparking creativity and interest in our kitchens—this— is what motivates our associates. We know that one size does not fit all in a hospital setting. And we have the size, scope and experience to get it right. We start with customer preferences, knowing that they will change, and that we need to be responsive. Seasonal menus, local-sourcing, and rotating specials are what we expect at our local restaurant. Why not introduce these concepts in a hospital setting? Here’s the great thing: most of these changes are cost neutral and they are all scalable.
These innovations benefit more than just our patients. Our chefs are real people, actively engaged in both the planning and the follow-through. They feel pride in what they are creating, and Morrison’s Culinary team is driven to influence positive outcomes to the physicians, patients, caregivers and families we serve. This isn’t about Michelin Stars. This is about designing thoughtful and surprising menus that create food experiences patients can look forward to. All patients want good food—and nobody deserves it more than they do.