The Healthcare Innovation Congress | May 29-31, 2024 | Washington, DC

thINc360 – The Healthcare Innovation Congress
May 29-31, 2024 | Washington, DC

Fast Five with Sven Gierlinger

What challenges or gaps in care are you focused on?

Six years ago, when Northwell embraced the ideology that food is a fundamental tenant of health and well-being, our initial goal was to improve the quality of hospital food. However, throughout our journey, the mission has expanded, and the aim now includes elevating how healthcare professionals view food, recognizing there is an intrinsic responsibility and obligation to lead by example, prioritizing food and nutrition as an essential facet of health and care delivery.

What initiatives are you currently spearheading to improve health?

Our organization has fully committed to large-scale improvements to deliver healthy, nutrient-dense, and delicious restaurant-quality meals to patients, our expansive workforce and diverse communities served. By focusing on leadership, talent, structure, process, accountability, and procurement, notable highlights recruiting high-caliber talent, converting from a “cook-chill” to a “cook-to-order model,” standardizing and optimizing procurement practices, focus on medically tailored meals, creation of onsite hospital gardens, supermarket-based education, honoring cultural/religious/diet preferences, expanding teaching kitchens, and integrating with community and population health efforts.

What necessary collaborations/partnerships have you established within and/or outside of your organization in developing your initiatives?

Northwell’s food transformation has required senior leadership vision, support and buy-in and from the start, our President and CEO, Michael J. Dowling, spearheaded this meaningful work. Internal collaboration has been ongoing with representatives from Food & Nutrition, Executive Chefs, Registered Dieticians, Patient Experience, Physicians, Nursing, Procurement, Community & Population Health, Facilities, Finance, and Operations. Northwell has also thoughtfully committed to partnering with external partners such as the Teaching Kitchen Collaborative, culinary schools, local farms and small businesses.

What is your measurement criteria for success or what current measurable improvements have you realized from your food as medicine/nutrition-focused initiatives?

Northwell has improved performance for the system patient experience measure, “Quality of Food” by 74 percentile rank points within the past six years. As of 2024 YTD, the system “Quality of Food” performance is at the 83rd percentile, when compared nationally to peers via the Press Ganey national database. Nine Northwell’s adult hospitals (60%) rank in the top quartile, with eight hospitals (53%) achieving a rank of 90th percentile or higher. Building our clinical nutrition program has remained a major priority, with Registered Dieticians spending more time with patients for counseling and education. With that structure in place, we will leverage our existing programs such as teaching kitchens and medically-tailored meal programming to further explore the relationship and impact of timely nutrition interventions on patient outcomes.  

What gives you hope for the future in health care?

With unprecedented rates of obesity, chronic disease, comorbidities, and food insecurity, Northwell’s large-scale redesign has promoted healthy food and lifestyle choices for patients, family caregivers, our workforce, and the diverse communities we serve. I am proud of the Northwell team’s unbridled commitment to improvement and I am optimistic that our pragmatic approach to improving food and incorporating nutrition as vital elements in the care plan will serve as an inspiration for other healthcare organizations to follow.

Sven Gierlinger

Sven Gierlinger
Senior Vice President and Chief Patient Experience Officer
Northwell Health

Substitution & Cancellation Policy:

Your registration may be transferred to a member of your organization up to 24 hours prior to the first day of the event. All cancellations must be received in writing no later than 30 calendar days prior to the first day of the event to receive a refund less the $195.00 administrative charge. No refunds will be made after this date. However, the registration fee less the $195.00 administrative charge can be credited toward another comparable event (registration must be received within 6 months of the event from which you cancel). In case of conference cancellation, The Healthcare Innovation Company’s liability is limited to refund of conference registration fee only. Programs are subject to change, and we reserve the right to alter all programs without prior notice.