New Bridge Medical Center, a clinical affiliate of Rutgers, is a 1,070-bed hospital located in Paramus, New Jersey. Founded in 1916 to treat patients with contagious diseases, the medical center is both the largest hospital and licensed nursing home in New Jersey and the fourth-largest publicly owned hospital in the nation.
A not-for-profit safety-net facility, New Bridge Medical Center provides high-quality comprehensive services—including acute care, behavioral healthcare, and long-term care—to the Greater Bergen County community.
New Bridge Medical Center was looking for a new partner to help manage their foodservice program. Their expiring contract contained costly provisions, was based on a blended rate that couldn’t be budgeted predictably (often at a higher cost to the medical center), and lacked any condition that the supplying partner be accountable for patient satisfaction.
Both patients and staff were dissatisfied with the quality and consistency of the food. In addition, the way the food was delivered to patients was inefficient. Service to behavioral health patients was not customized, and those patients were being served by non-qualified staff. Also, the patients’ range of dietary needs weren’t being met. Long-term care patients have little control over many things, so food becomes an important issue. During resident council meetings, the discussions about food took the most time.
“Food is highly individual, and it’s very hard to satisfy everyone. This is particularly true with the patient population at New Bridge, who tend to have extended stays. While it is challenging to meet every patient’s needs, we strive to meet them through communication and collaboration,” said Iris Verdi, Vice President of Facility Operations at New Bridge Medical Center.
Acurity/Premier subject matter experts were engaged to identify a partner who would provide improved service geared toward patient satisfaction through a better quality product, increased operational efficiencies, and reduced costs—truly a combination of cost, quality, and outcomes.
Acurity/Premier worked with New Bridge Medical Center on reviewing their foodservice program and constructing a bidding process that met the medical center’s goals, evaluating bid proposals to provide the health system with a transparent agreement while simultaneously reducing existing operational expenses.
We explored multiple outsourced management structures to find the best fit. Acurity/Premier created a Request for Proposal (RFP) document that reflected the medical center’s specific expectations, which included placing a portion of the management fee at risk, based on patient satisfaction score benchmarking.
The food purchasing function was brought in-house to ensure best pricing and avoid management services overhead costs, which saved the medical center money. Acurity and Premier were instrumental in circulating the RFP to potential bidders, reviewing the proposals, and summarizing the quantifiable and subjective benefits of each to the New Bridge Medical Center Steering Committee. Oral presentations and key questions for bidders were facilitated by Acurity/Premier, which also provided a final value proposition from bidders and savings available from bringing food purchasing in-house. Acurity worked with New Bridge Medical Center to draft contract terms, service levels, and fees, as well as the transition milestones and timeline necessary to keep the changeover orderly once the new management company was selected.
New Bridge Medical Center’s engagement with Acurity/Premier resulted in a stronger contract with a management company that provided great benefit to the medical center through reduced costs and increased revenue. Acurity helped the organization negotiate a transparent agreement, which offers them the best food product pricing available, and provided them with risk language that was included in the agreement to help maintain patient service levels throughout the organization.
New Bridge serves over 3,000 meals a day and the transition, which has been smooth, will continue through the end of the year. They run satisfaction surveys to obtain staff feedback. In addition, management visits the kitchen multiple times each week. Staff are also invited to express any concerns to management at any time.
Patient feedback is provided using NRC Health and the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems surveys. The medical center also has a food committee attended by leadership and nurses to provide feedback for each service line.
“Acurity has been a lifesaver throughout this process. Paul Furnari, Acurity Director of Food Services and Nutrition Contracting Support, has made himself available to us whenever needed. As I don’t have a food background, Acurity’s help has made this entire process far easier.”
The contract included performance guarantees that put 30% of the management fee at risk in order to ensure patient satisfaction. It reduced the Total Management Value, the benchmark for gauging the economic value of a management agreement, to 2.9% on an industry range of 2%–5%. The new three-year contract also included a fixed management fee, resulting in an actual outlay savings of $1.4 million annually while adding 4.3 new full-time employee equivalents. These savings were a bonus, making this a true example of putting the cost, quality, and outcomes principles into action.
Importantly, New Bridge Medical Center retains the full retail revenue, an annual value of $634,000. Acurity’s recommendation to return food purchasing to the medical center resulted in annual savings and purchasing incentives of $480,000 or 12% of their annual food spend. In the search to find a foodservice partner who could provide better service overall, New Bridge Medical Center was able to increase patient satisfaction, gain contract transparency, improve terms & pricing, and maintain a more efficient service model.