Measuring Patient Food Experience: Developing Canada’s capacity to measure, understand, and improve the patient food experience.


This project proposes the development of a national patient food experience tool as a means to catalyze a nationwide effort to value and improve the patient meal experience. The project was motivated by the understanding that meal-time is critical to patient recovery, comfort, and healing, and recognizes that as many as 20% of patients leave the hospital more malnourished than when they arrived. The team hypothesized that having common national tools and data collection methods enables cross-jurisdictions learning and would deepen understanding of the patient food experience. Through the ability to compare efforts across Canadian sites, strategy and goal-setting would improve, and trends could be monitored across time.

The project partnered with Dr. Heather Keller and Dr. Lisa Duizer to adapt an Ontario, OMAFRA-funded research study to create a national tool. The tool explored questions such as: Would changes in a food service delivery system (e.g. room service) improve patient food experience/ satisfaction? Does making improvements in food quality or appearance change patient food experience/ satisfaction? How does adding more local/sustainable or traditional foods impact patient food experience/ satisfaction?

The tool was tested at 43 sites across Canada and1,647 patients were surveyed. A theme across the findings was that food matters to patients, and that their preference is for food that tastes good, is healthy, fresh, and to a high but lesser extent, is local. A clear insight from the data was a patient preference for more fresh fruit. A correlation was also found between higher patient food experience scores and sites offering room service versus other modes of meal delivery.  More detailed data analysis is currently underway to provide additional insights to better describe the patient food experience and identify the factors that predict improved satisfaction. 

The adoption of this tool in hospitals across Canada will grow the database, enabling further important analyses and uncovering relationships that can optimize food services in ways that support patients to eat and recover.  After all, food is medicine.

Roughly half a dozen Innovator individual projects undertook efforts to collect data that would help them to better understand the patient food experience, including participating in the research of the Good Food Project. 

 Read the final deck presented at the Food for Health Symposium below:




Carlota BasualdoAlberta Health Services

Stephanie Cook, Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region

Michelle Nelson, Covenant Health

Danielle BarriaultAlberta Health Services

Suzanne House, Central Health


Wendy Smith
Hayley Lapalme