Smart Kitchen Technologies in Healthcare Foodservice Can Solve Two Critical Problems

If there’s a top challenge in today’s healthcare foodservice industry, that hurdle is almost certainly related to labor. In fact, according to Foodservice Director magazine’s State of Healthcare Survey, 84 percent of all respondents claimed to be understaffed in 2022. A staggering number in an industry that’s promoting health and wellness, which requires human-to-human interaction. Even with inflation, healthcare foodservice operators can encounter labor challenges twice as often as the second most anticipated challenge: rising costs.

Couple that with what respondents reported to be the second hottest trend in healthcare foodservice — automation and technology. The result? An opportunity to incorporate smart, connected kitchens and see how today’s innovations can help reduce the strains on labor.

Incorporating a Connected Kitchen Into Healthcare Foodservice

What is a connected kitchen? Essentially, a smart kitchen or connected kitchen is a system that links different aspects of a commercial or institutional kitchen — from refrigeration to HVAC to fryers. Different components are connected under one cloud-based system as part of the Internet of Things, or IoT — not only allowing healthcare and hospital foodservice directors and operators to know exactly what happens at all times, but also to control costs.

This level of transparency and visibility, along with the ability to control operations and make changes based on real-time data, can help directors solve labor challenges, as well as help reduce overhead costs spent on energy and other utilities.

Labor Shortages in Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities

As detailed above, labor is top-of-mind for healthcare foodservice directors, with roughly a third of those who reported labor shortages detailing deficiencies of between 26 and 50 percent. The question becomes, how can operators effectively deal with labor issues? According to the report above, the top strategy for encouraging employee retention is pay increases, with training coming in second. Ultimately, though, the healthcare operators who might be the most successful in solving labor issues are those who consider automation and technology as viable solutions.

A Second Benefit of Smart Kitchens

While helping reduce labor challenges is certainly a top benefit of a connected kitchen, it’s not the only one. Kitchens are large consumers of energy within healthcare and hospital foodservice systems. When smart technologies are incorporated, energy consumption is reduced. With ranges, refrigeration, HVAC, and other foodservice equipment being top electricity and natural gas users, any reduction in consumption levels can help lower overhead costs and enhance the bottom lines.

Open Kitchen: How Smart Kitchen Technology and Energy Management Software Can Help Healthcare Foodservice Operations

Technology and automation are becoming more and more prevalent across the foodservice industry. This includes foodservice operations in hospitals, senior care communities, and healthcare facilities.

Smart kitchen technology like Open Kitchen from Powerhouse Dynamics allows operators to closely monitor all areas of an operation. This gives precise, real-time data that can help drive staffing decisions. And the more an operator knows about a particular piece of equipment used during service, the easier it is to adapt staffing to maximize its potential.

Open Kitchen also allows healthcare foodservice operators to implement an energy management system that will help lower utility bills. It works by monitoring and reporting real-time data on energy usage that allows for instant modifications. For example, if there’s consistently a lull in service between the hours of three and four, operators will know this and be able to make modifications to equipment on/off schedules. There’s no need to run equipment when it’s not being used.

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Foodservice Director



Topics: Healthcare, IoT