BACKGROUND: Room service (RS) is a hospital foodservice model that is traditionally unique to the private sector. It allows patients to order meals compliant to their nutritional requirements from a single integrated menu at a time that suits them. Meals are prepared and delivered within 45 min of order. Following implementation in a private adult facility in 2013, Mater Group implemented the first RS in a public adult facility in Australia in 2016. In a pre-post study comparing RS with a traditional foodservice model (TM), key outcomes were measured and analysed.
METHODS: A retrospective analysis of quality assurance data audits in a pre-post study design was undertaken to assess patient nutritional intake, plate waste, satisfaction and meal costs before and after RS implementation.
RESULTS: Comparison of nutritional intake between TM (n = 84) and RS (n = 103) showed statistically significant increases with RS in both energy (5513 kJ day-1 versus 6379 kJ day-1 , P = 0.020) and protein (53 g day-1 versus 74 g day-1 , P < 0.001) intake, as well as energy and protein intake as a percentage of requirements (64% versus 78%, P = 0.002 and 70% versus 99%, P < 0.001, respectively). Total average plate waste decreased from 30% to 17% (P < 0.001). Patient satisfaction indicated an improvement with RS, with 98% of patients scoring the service good to very good, compared to 75% for TM (P < 0.04). Patient food costs decreased by 28% per annum with RS.
CONCLUSIONS: This research provides insight into the benefits achievable with RS in the public hospital setting, confirming that a patient-centred food service model can cost-effectively improve clinical outcomes.