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Benefits of Self-Serve Kiosks in the Hospital Cafeteria [RE-POST]

May 17, 2019 By Robert Jones

In many hospitals and other healthcare contexts, retail food services is becoming an increasingly important source of revenue.

A study by Food services Director Magazine found that retail accounts for 60% of hospital food services revenues, and this number is expected to grow further over the next few years. In many cases, the revenue generated by retail food services is used to offset costs of other hospital services, including patient meal service.

Given the growing significance of retail food services, many healthcare organizations are taking a serious look at innovative methods for improving retail operations, and self-serve kiosks are a proven way of doing that.

Here's how self-serve kiosks can benefit your healthcare food services operation.

Revenue growth across sectors with kiosks

Multiple studies have shown that kiosk installations result in customers spending more money. For instance, when McDonald’s installed kiosks in a number of locations, the average order in those locations grew by 30%. Cinemark theaters reported similar results, with new kiosks causing concession spending per person to increase for 32 straight quarters.

These larger orders happen for two main reasons.

First, training employees to consistently present upsell opportunities is often difficult. Kiosks, on the other hand, can be relied upon to do so every single time. This can often result in customers placing larger orders. In the case of McDonald’s, the kiosks successfully upsold a drink to 20% of customers who would not otherwise have ordered one.

Second, self-serve kiosks allow restaurants to prominently display menu items that are new, promotional, or simply overlooked. This increases the chances that customers will find items which appeal to them.

For these reasons, self-serve kiosks can often be an effective way to increase revenues at retail food services venues.

Reduce costs and increase efficiency

As healthcare costs continue to rise and the prospect of healthcare reform draws near, food services organizations face serious pressure to contain expenses and increase accountability. At the same time, food prices are also growing at 3-5% a year, making it even more difficult to maintain adequate profit margins.

Caught in this double bind, healthcare food services organizations need new ways of increasing financial efficiency, without compromising food quality or service.

Self-serve kiosks are an ideal solution because they can help cut costs in two ways.

First, they lower labor costs by transferring some of the work to customers. This reduces the need for cashiers, and allows you to move personnel to other roles, especially in the back of house. As a result, you can get faster and more consistent order thoroughput, significantly increasing sales per employee.

Second, kiosks can directly increase speed of service by offering multiple order locations in a single restaurant, which greatly reduces service lines. When Virginia-based Sentara Healthcare installed kiosks in their new cafeteria, they saw a 15-20% reduction in total order times. The program has been so successful that Sentara is already planning to expand the number of kiosks and develop an online ordering app.

Improve customer satisfaction

In some cases, technology might increase revenues and cost-efficiency, but result in a worse customer experience. 

That’s not the case when it comes to self-serve kiosks. In fact, believe it or not, customers often prefer ordering from a kiosk, choosing to do so even when human staff are available. Part of the reason is the efficiency mentioned earlier – shorter queue times make customers happy.

But there are also a number of other factors that make the kiosk experience more compelling in itself:

  • Greater Order Accuracy. Unlike human servers, kiosks do not make mistakes. Because customers are able to directly customize and review their own orders on a touchscreen, communication errors are significantly reduced.
  • Visual Imagery.A survey by Software Advice found that 25% of customers enjoy the ability to look at pictures of food on self-serve kiosks. This feature is made even more compelling when combined with the ability to customize their meal – which 55% of customers preferred.
  • Increased Focus on Customer Experience. When customers place their own orders, staff are freed up to focus on improving the customer experience, in both the front and back of house. More attentive and timely service means an increase in overall customer satisfaction.

Unlike some other technology-driven solutions, self-serve kiosks present a true win-win for both the food services provider and its customers.

Encourage healthier food choices

In recent years, there has been increasing attention on the role of healthcare food services in addressing obesity and chronic illness. After all, there is a certain irony in hospitals serving fries and ice cream, while doctors in the same building are trying to treat and prevent long-term diseases caused by those very foods.

At the same time, the availability of those food options is driven by customer demand, so it can often be impractical to remove them from the menu entirely. Instead, a better solution is to educate customers with the information they need to make healthier, more informed choices.

Kiosks and nutritional information

Self-serve kiosks can be used to provide customers with the nutritional information of their meals. When a customer is placing their order, the kiosk can allow them to view the nutrition data of specific items on the menu. Once they have decided which items to order, the kiosk can then display a nutrition table with the total calories, fat, protein and carbohydrates in the entire meal.

If desired, the program can be customized to display healthier alternatives to various items. It can also highlight ingredients that are likely to be food allergy sensitive and allow customers to filter items by their specific dietary needs. Not only does this provide much more detail than a human employee would be able to, it also eliminates the chance of providing erroneous information to the customer.

This customizability allows well-designed kiosk menus to “nudge” customers into healthier dietary decisions.

Changing the game in healthcare food services technology

New industry challenges demand new solutions, and few industries are changing as quickly as healthcare. Hospital food services operators are feeling the pressure as well, with demands for higher revenues, lower costs and improved customer satisfaction.

Self-serve kiosks can be an important part of the solution. By streamlining order flows and improving the customer experience, kiosks can help you achieve all those goals and more. Leveraged correctly, they could become the next game-changer for your food service operations.


What does investing in kiosk technology and cloud-based point of sale for food services operations look like right now? This brief provides a useful overview.

Get your copy here.

Filed Under
  • Technology
  • Trends
  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality
  • Infor POS (Point of Sale)
  • North America
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