Digital meal ordering: improving hospital catering

21st October 2021

With the recommendations of the Hospital Food Review still front of mind for hospital caterers, Andrew Pond, Business Development Director, considers the many benefits of digital meal ordering in hospitals.

It’s been 12 months since the Independent Review of NHS Hospital Food in England was published – the first step towards improving standards in hospital catering.

The comprehensive review covers the safety, nutrition, quality and production methods of food for patients, staff and visitors in NHS hospitals. Its focus is on making things better through a holistic approach and it puts forward eight recommendations for system-level change, including: “Every hospital should implement a digital meal ordering system by 2022.”

But what is digital meal ordering? And what are the benefits?

Using technology to improve patient experience

Digital meal ordering means taking patient meal orders via a tablet or other device instead of written instructions. It’s a more efficient way to streamline the ordering process and reduces the risk of error.

At Civica, we understand the important benefits this can deliver. We’ve created Saffron Bedside to take digital meal ordering to the next level.

With Saffron Bedside, ward staff use a tablet to input preferences for specific patients, rather than beds. This means patients receive their chosen meal even if they are moved. The solution is easy to navigate and fully tailored to the individual. It allows patients to choose from a specific list of meals that are suitable for them, with the option for individual preferences due to the human interaction required.

Unlocking the benefits

With less than three months until the recommended deadline for all hospitals to have implemented a digital meal ordering system, it’s important to understand the benefits. These include:

  •  Paperless meal ordering – reduce the risk of error through electronic data input and record keeping 
  • A more interactive and personal system – systems like Saffron Bedside are proven to improve patient experience 
  • Safer ordering – choices can be automatically mapped to patients’ care plans or dietary needs, with unsuitable items not available to choose 
  • Improved efficiency – quicker inputting, real-time updates and a reduction in the time between ordering and meal delivery can all help drive efficiency on wards and in the kitchen 
  • Minimise food waste - personal order preferences can be inputted manually to avoid unnecessary food waste 
  • Orders can be received per patient, not beds – if a patient is moved at short notice, food doesn’t have to go to waste.

With Civica, caterers can also take advantage of Civica Saffron, our advanced catering and kitchen management software solution to drive efficiency, support compliance and enhance visibility.

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