Implementation of Specialized Software in Hospital Foodservice Departments: A Multi-Case Study Approach

Embry, Ann
Major Professor
Susan W. Arendt
Committee Member
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Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management

This study investigated the implementation of specialized hospital foodservice software in five hospital foodservice departments using qualitative and quantitative research methods. The software provided diet office systems management, purchasing, inventory, production tools, financial, and cafeteria management features. The departments underwent a mandatory implementation of the software. Each hospital belonged to a division of 17 hospitals within a large for-profit healthcare corporation.

Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 27 individuals involved in the implementation of the software or who used the software during and following implementation. Additionally, a questionnaire investigating technology readiness and willingness to adopt was administered post-implementation to 104 hospital foodservice employees working in the five hospital foodservice departments. Secondary patient satisfaction data and financial data spanning six months pre-implementation through six months post-implementation were analyzed.

Findings included: identification of barriers and facilitators to software implementation, preferred methods of training, and identification of requested communication tools. Benefits and disadvantages regarding the implementation were identified and modifications to department operations made post-implementation were pinpointed.

A perceived effect on departmental efficiency was noted at four of the five foodservice departments; however, the perceived effect was not consistent and no overall effect was found. Patient satisfaction was impacted by the implementation process. Four of the five foodservice departments experienced a decrease in patient satisfaction during the quarter software implementation occurred.

The results from the survey indicated there was familiarity with and perceived value in the use of technology. The majority of foodservice employees (69%) indicated they ‘liked the idea of automating the diet office’.

This study found leadership and communication are key components in the implementation of software in hospital foodservice. Evidence of strong leadership and good communication helped to facilitate the implementation, while poor communication and leadership were barriers to the implementation process. Electronic training methods were poorly received by the end users, while hands on training was well received and found effective by end users. The addition of registered dietitians in the implementation process appeared beneficial and resulted in the end users feeling proficient with the software.