Menu Management System Improves Patient Satisfaction

FORT WORTH, Texas — Carrying only a clipboard and a Palm Pilot, dietary hostesses at Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital (HMFW) are reducing the time spent taking meal orders and increasing efficiency and patient satisfaction.

This month, HMFW implemented a diet office management system, which allows staff to effectively and efficiently order and prepare food. The software, Nutrition Service Suite (NSS), simply requires hostesses carry a Palm as they enter each patient’s room to take orders.

"The new system will save a huge amount of time, which should add to increasing patients’ satisfaction," Vanessa Robinson, director of ARAMARK, said. "Patients have already begun commenting on how impressed they are by the difference the new technology is making."

Previously, hostesses carried customized menus of choices, based on each patient’s dietary requirements, a process which was time cumbersome and paper intensive.

An added benefit to the Palms is that they only allow patients to order meals on their approved diet. "This saves me a lot of time," Edna Baylor, a dietary hostess, said. "Searching for each patient’s menu requirements and restrictions is easier and faster with this new technology. I love it!"

With the previous diet ordering system, patients had to make their order selection for the following day. The new system gives patients more control over their meal choices because it allows them to order a meal on the same day they will receive it. This reduces the number of extra meals by showing which patients have already checked out, or whose diets have changed.

To prepare the software for use at HMFW, a database was built which contained all of the foods, menus and options available to patients. The database also interfaces with the hospital’s patient information system, which helps ensure patients are following their required diet.

Palms are currently being piloted on three hospital floors and will be expanded to additional floors after troubleshooting and training is complete.

Opened in 1930, HMFW is Tarrant County’s largest and busiest hospital and regional referral center. A member of Texas Health Resources, HMFW is licensed for 610-beds and provides the following services: neurosciences; cardiovascular; orthopedics and sports medicine; rehabilitation; adult critical care and neonatal intensive care; high risk and routine obstetrics and gynecology; trauma and emergency medicine; cancer care; medical/surgical; kidney transplants; occupational health; and more.