Outside of healthcare, room service usually means one thing – you’re at a hotel, you’re hungry and don’t want to go out, you call down to place your order, and about 40 minutes later, your tray shows up. Or, maybe before you go to sleep, you grab that breakfast door hanger, make your selections, and check off your desired delivery time. In a healthcare environment, the above two scenarios are certainly commonplace – a food & nutrition management software system that includes a room service component can easily handle either situation for any meal. But, unlike a hotel, a healthcare environment may want and need to have several different types of meal service – simultaneously. Of course, there are definitely facilities where 100 percent of patients are considered room service eligible – even those on liquid and pureed diets, but in most sites, some sort of “hybrid” situation is in place.
For example, Hospital A determines that a certain number of patients are not room service eligible, and so these patients may be served via a traditional trayline service with scheduled cart delivery times. Their food preferences and allergies have already been obtained and so a corrected, patient-specific tray ticket is generated for them. Hospital B has two sites and uses a centralized call center for room service orders. All patients who have not called in their order by a certain time prior to each meal are visited bedside by a host/hostess carrying a wireless tablet to obtain and enter their selections. Hospital C is primarily room service but has a rehab unit where published menus are printed in advance and distributed for patients or family members to mark several days’ worth of menus.
A capable software system needs to be able to handle any of the above scenarios, or combinations thereof. Whether just one unit at a site uses room service, or the entire facility, flexibility to manage all meal service needs is imperative. And regardless of the type or types of meal service, patient food preferences and allergies must be taken into account and managed appropriately.