Hospital room service evolves to address patient malnutrition

04/Dec/2019     Health

The next evolution in hospital room service has been developed at Mater with Australia’s first hospital computer system developed to allow clinicians to quickly identify, assess and manage patients at risk of malnutrition. 

Three-way collaboration between Mater’s dietetics and food services team, data analytic team and partner software vendor CBORD  has taken what was several paper based  processes and created an efficient real-time electronic Malnutrition Management Solution, to manage patient nutritional risk and improve outcomes.

On average, between 30-50 percent of patients are at risk of malnutrition in acute care hospitals. Many arrive at risk while others become at risk due to treatments, complications, and side effects of illness.

Mater’s new system ensures that nutritional intake is collected on every patient at every meal and automatically calculates the nutritional adequacy of a patient’s diet. This allows clinicians to quickly and easily identify patients who are or may become at risk during their stay, and quickly implement a comprehensive nutrition care plan.

Director of Dietetics and Food Services Sally McCray said the system has not only streamlined and prioritised dietitians’ work flow but has allowed her team to quickly and easily identify patients who need intervention.

“Over a seven month period we worked with our dietitians, food services staff, our data analytics team and our software partner CBORD to develop and implement this system,” Ms McCray said.

“When our dietitians begin each day, they can clearly see which patients need immediate attention and can implement a personalised nutrition care plan for them quickly and efficiently.

“We know that poor food consumption is a contributor to risk of malnutrition and we’ve shown that implementing room service increases patients’ intake because they can choose to eat what they want, when they want.

“We’ve taken the next step and developed a system where we can monitor and track each patient’s nutritional intake meal by meal, day by day throughout their stay and help reduce the negative consequences we see with malnourished patients such as longer length of stay in hospital, risk of pressure injuries and infections and risk of falls because of undernutrition.” she said.

Mater Chief Medical Officer Dr Clare Morgan said Mater’s data analytics team works closely with a number of clinical areas across Mater to develop new tools and capability to improve patient clinical outcomes.

“Many health services don’t have access to such a team and through extensive collaboration we’ve significantly improved health benefits for patients,” Dr Morgan said.

“This newly developed nutrition data analytics tool integrates new data, along with existing data from our software systems to enable clinicians to have a comprehensive view of patients’ nutritional risk at the click of a button,” she said.

Sally McCray recently presented this work at the annual Dietitians Association of Australia national conference in August and was an invited speaker at the recent Qld Health Clinical Excellence Showcase.

Mater rolled out Australia’s first room service to Mater Private Hospital Brisbane patients in 2013 and Mater Hospital Brisbane patients in 2016. Plate wastage has reduced by an average of 20 per cent, nutritional intake has increased by 15-20 per cent and food costs decreased by 25 per cent. More than 2200 meals are served across South Brisbane and Springfield every day.

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