Objectives: To identify current operational practices and expectations for future practices in hospital foodservice; establish the probability that current practices will change; and determine whether differences in practices exist on the basis of profit status and hospital size.
Design: A questionnaire, to determine current practices, probability of change, and expectations for future practices, was mailed to foodservice directors.
Subjects: A random sample of 500 foodservice directors in US hospitals with 200 or more beds. A total of 214 questionnaires were returned for a response rate of 43%.
Statistical analysis: Descriptive statistics were used to report current practices, probability of change, and expectations for future practices. The Kruskal-Wallis test was conducted to examine whether the probability of change ratings differed on the basis of hospital profit status and size. chi 2 Analysis was used to examine whether expectations for future practices differed based on hospital profit status and size.
Results: Currently 81% of hospital foodservice departments have fewer than 100 employees; 73% have revenue budgets of less than $2 million; 49% have expense budgets greater than $2 million; 55% use a selective menu, often (43%) 1-week in length; 74% use conventional food production technology; 81% have a centralized, hot tray line; 91% operate a cafeteria; 96% do on-site catering; 69% have differential pricing for employee meals; 58% have subsidized employee meals; and 19% have coffee kiosks. Changes in current practices are expected in several areas. Foodservice directors expect to serve meals to fewer inpatients (71%), employ less staff (73%), have smaller expense budgets (70%), and generate more revenue (61%). Kruskal-Wallis and chi 2 analyses indicated few differences on the basis of hospital profit status and size. There was little consensus among directors on how to best respond to these environmental changes.
Applications: Hospital foodservice practices will change in the future. Foodservice directors are using a variety of strategies (e.g., revenue-generating ventures, menu changes) to respond to current environmental changes. Increased emphasis will be placed on running a hospital foodservice department as a profit center rather than a cost center.