Is your hospital doing what it takes to meet the demands of today’s healthcare consumer?

Are you creating the positive experience? Are you focusing on the differentiations in your operation?


Patients are your primary objective and to ensure they receive excellent care.  However, it is the retail and catering environment upon which food service is typically judged. The retail and catering represent more than 2/3 of the food service workload and activity. Retail and Catering operations generate the profit centers.


Know your audience employees, administration, c-level suite, visitors, community visitors and/or patients. Prepare for your audience by understanding their cultural needs, age diversity, sophisticated or simple tastes. Prepare by observing the meal periods and view the traffic patterns, types of menu mix, and opportunities. Prepare to survey your employees, potential customers, etc…for their food and service likes, dislike, tastes, experiences. Research your surrounding food business, check out trends, and learn what others are doing by visiting other non-healthcare sites-e.g. Business and Industry facilities, college and university dining, new trendy operations, new concept restaurants to enable you to pick up great ideas, venues, menu items, enrich your operations. Read and Google on the internet to see food trends, visuals of displays, ask the questions and learn. Take these ideas and incorporate your own branding concepts from it.

If you want a retail operations that will generate loyalty, enable your hospital foodservice to have a distinctive and credible image and generate revenue incorporate some of these ideas below into your healthcare operations. Today’s customers because of the internet, food networks, etc…appear to be more sophisticated, aware of trends and want a positive experience.

  • Great tasting food
  • Food that is presented well
  • Flexible hours of operation
  • Staff trained in retail and knowledgeable about foods prepared and served
  • Nutrition and healthier foods offerings
  • Organic food choices
  • Fresh cooking, international flare and comfort foods
  • Authentic and quality foods
  • Locally sources ingredients
  • Take out and convenience
  • Speed of service
  • Great service – every time!
  • Value for service
  • Provide customer service that goes the extra mile while at the same time ensuring maximum convenience and speed of service
  • Ensure food safety and sanitation standard while continuously training and education of staff
  • Be more creative and innovative in packaging, cooking methods, displays
  • Fusion Flavors-herbs and spices, different cuts of meats, preparations

Mintel noted that four in five Americans said they had eaten ethnic food at a restaurant in July. The research firm projected that, because cuisine types like Chinese, Mexican and Italian have become so mainstream, “it’s time to dig deeper” and feature the staple foods of specific regions, from Tuscany in Italy to North Carolina-style barbecue. According to Mintel research, nearly 9 in  10  North Americans(U.S. and Canada) think it is important to eat healthful meals, but 63 percent say that is very difficult to accomplish in restaurants because of a lack of healthful items. However, chefs are hearing what consumers want and according to 2010 Canadian chef survey, the trends underscore a growing focus on health, nutrition and the environment. “Restaurant chefs are not only listening to their customers, they are helping to drive the trend toward health, nutrition and sustainability through innovative menu offerings (, March 4, 2010 release)

Top  Menu Trends

1. Locally sourced food

2. Sustainability

3. Organic produce

4.  Simplicity / Back to basics

5.Nutritional / healthy cuisine

6. Small plates / tapas / mezze / dim sum

7.Bite size / mini desserts

8.Superfruits (e.g. acai, goji berry, mangosteen)

I have spoken to many CEOs of hospitals who feel that in a hospital cafe, cafeteria, and all their retail outlets this should be in alignment with hospital wellness and healthy initiatives. Healthy food can taste good. Check out a new concept that takes comfort foods to the next level. Dejunking fast food- 4food (

The message is coming loud and clear. Customers want more! More respect, more choice, and more help! In addition, they want less! Less hassle, fewer procedures, less aggravation. They want a better experience every time they deal with a healthcare foodservice retail venue.

How are you handling retail foodservice at your facility? Do you think these ideas resonate to you? I look forward to hearing your ideas and opinions.



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