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Electronic Meal Ordering Systems

Andrew Georgiou, Johanna Westbrook, Julie Li, Ling Li, Mirela Prgomet

Electronic meal ordering systems: an Evidence Check rapid review brokered by the Sax Institute for the NSW Ministry of Health, 2015.

In 2014, HealthShare NSW commenced the development of a new delivery model for patient food services. A set of nutrition standards for menus and specifications for therapeutic diets was developed by the Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI) to facilitate centralised menu planning and food production. These standards form part of a broader framework to improve nutritional care in NSW hospitals, including reform to the current paper-based meal ordering system with implementation of electronic meal ordering. The electronic meal ordering system is expected to produce multiple benefits for organisations and patients.

A request was made by the Workforce Planning and Development Branch, at the NSW Ministry of Health, to undertake a literature scan to identify and summarise current evidence regarding electronic meal ordering systems in order to inform the planning and evaluation of the NSW meal ordering system reforms. This report presents findings from an evidence scan of literature, from Australia and internationally, on electronic meal ordering system reforms and their associated impacts on hospital and patient outcomes. The period of the review spanned 15 years, from January 2000 to December 2015.

The objectives addressed by the review were to:

  • Describe the types of electronic meal ordering systems and food service reforms related to the introduction of electronic meal ordering systems that have been reported in the literature
  • Describe any nutritional screening and risk assessment protocols implemented alongside electronic meal ordering systems
  • Present evidence of the impact of electronic meal ordering systems on patient outcomes and on implications for staff, and
  • Discuss considerations for future evaluations of electronic meal ordering systems based on the evidence identified in the literature.

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Electronic Meal Ordering Systems

February 5, 2020 – It’s no secret that hospitals are facing mounting pressures. While demands on the system are going up due to trends like an aging population and changing technology, hospital budgets are going down. Hospitals are struggling to keep up and the situation is only projected to get worse.

In the face of these challenges, healthcare leaders are looking for better ways to optimize hospital operations and ensure optimal patient outcomes. The challenge, however, has been finding a solution that is sustainable, cost effective and future proof.

At HealthHub, we think the solution lies in the patients themselves – through patient engagement.

Patient engagement involves providing patients with access to the right information at the right time. It means connecting patients to their healthcare providers and systems. And, it means supporting patients along the way with the right tools, controls and entertainment to make their journey as seamless and as frictionless as possible.

Although decades ago, it was thought that patients should be kept in the dark about their own health, we now know that when patients are engaged, everyone wins.

In fact, when patients are enabled with the right information, they become better informed, more empowered, and more engaged in their own care – all of which lead to better health outcomes and a more efficient healthcare system.

Engaged patients mean that doctors can do more doctoring, nurses can do more nursing and administrators can focus on delivering added value to the system.

So, just how can we facilitate patient engagement? By bringing the hospital to the patient’s bedside.

Of the 5.8 days the average Canadian patient stays in hospital, most of this time is spent alone, often watching a bedside TV. At HealthHub, we recognized this as an opportunity for innovation. In fact, we’ve developed a new bedside terminal platform, called myHealthHub, that replaces outdated TVs to deliver a powerful patient engagement solution.

Our platform not only enables patients to be entertained through features like on-demand TV and Wi-Fi, but it also allows patients to stay engaged with family, friends, community, hospital and – most importantly – their own care, through a suite of patient engagement applications.

By taking a patient-centered approach, we’re helping to bring the hospital to the bedside and transform the patient experience.

HealthHub is investing significantly to improve the experience of the Canadian patient and, in 2019, launched our all-new myHealthHub
patient engagement platform, along with making other company changes (see image below).

What’s more is that the benefits don’t stop at the patient. The benefits of our bedside patient engagement platform extend beyond the patient and to healthcare providers.

Let’s take one example. So many times, nurses report that they feel as if they’re the captain of their patient’s journey. In addition to providing caregiving and companionship, nurses are relied on to respond to a wide range of patient requests – dim the lights, order meals, adjust environmental controls and so on. If patients had the right technology at their bedside, providing them with better control over simple things like their environment or food orders, imagine what it would mean for both nurses and patients? Patients would have more agency and nurses could focus on providing care and companionship – the things that have been proven to help people heal faster.

Bedside patient engagement technology also aligns with the current global shift towards valuing patient outcome and experience over simply patient flow. Rather than focus on how quickly patients can be moved through a hospital, decision-makers are looking at the patient journey through a more holistic lens and working to improve it. This is in part because it’s the right thing to do and in part because patients are demanding it. As our world becomes more digitally-enabled, patients expect hospitals to be equipped with the latest technology and they expect connectivity – even from their hospital bed.

In summary, as pressures mount for hospitals to operate more efficiently, provide excellent patient experiences and deliver optimal health outcomes, we think the future lies in the hands of the patients. By unlocking new possibilities that come along with patient engagement, everyone wins. We’ve already seen proof that bedside patient engagement technology can transform patient experiences and outcomes – and we’ve only just begun.


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