Until last year, Shore Medical Center in Somers Point, N.J., relied on paper menus and scheduled delivery times to deliver meals to patients.
That system often caused unnecessary food waste, and it also dragged down patient-satisfaction scores. Some patients got food they didn't want because items were removed from their order and replaced with substitutes to reflect dietary restrictions and allergies. Other times trays were delivered when patients were away from their room, so if the patient had ordered a hot meal the food would go cold and get thrown away.
Those issues largely disappeared when Shore Medical began using tablet technology to provide food service.
In August 2015, the 198-bed hospital rolled out MyDine, a program from food-service provider Unidine that links information on patients' dietary restrictions and allergies stored in their electronic health record to tablets used by staff members (referred to as guest-service representatives). They interact with patients one-on-one to discuss menu options that reflect their diet while also making sure patients are ordering what they want and when they want it.
The tablets automatically update every 30 seconds with dietary changes made in the patient's EHR so the representatives discuss only the menu items the patient is actually allowed to have.