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Making Systems Part of the Solution

At UCSF Medical Center, Director of Nutrition Services Dan Henroid Is Employing Technology to Drive Efficiency and Customer Service.

When onsite operators talk about technology, many think of highly visible applications like digital menu boards and cashless payment options. Moffi tt Café has its share of these: Cashless payments are strongly promoted via its FastPay system and 52-inch digital screens merchandise offerings at most stations and at the new café entrance, streaming menu specials, images, news and hospital information.

At the same time, Henroid has also focused on other applications that are less common. The fl owchart he uses to illustrate the department’s information system network shows how he is seeking to integrate all its distributed sources of data and information to central servers.

Using the Computrition University Xchange Gateway, it is linking the Computrition Hospitality Suite and other applications such as its Agilysys point of sale and the ReServe Interactive catering software systems. Data is processed and re-routed as necessary, allowing the systems to share nutritional info, food cost and menu price data, use-by dates, etc. (You can view his fl owchart at systems-flowchart.pdf)

Food safety has been a long-time focus (even as far back as grad school, when Henroid won a major grant to research HACCP implementation in K-12 programs). At UCSFMC, he has placed Awarepoint radio frequency identifi cation temperature sensors at over 600 points throughout the hospital (including floor pantry and patient room refrigerators and in some non foodservice applications, such as pharmacy refrigerators).

His department is responsible for monitoring approximately 150 food refrigerators and freezers throughout the institution using this system. These provide real time data logging and alerts when equipment goes out of range. The same system also provides asset tracking, logging the physical location of major pieces of equipment (e.g. food carts, holding cabinets, etc.)

For point-of-service temperature monitoring, staff employ a HACCP Pro system with handheld personal digital assistants and Bluetooth thermometer probes to match specifi c temperature scans to specifi c food at individual stations.

The department prints and attaches labels to all its pre-packaged sandwiches and salads to display both nutritional data for the item and a scannable bar code that speeds checkout. They also scan retail food bar codes to increase sales accuracy, with 85 percent of retail purchases scanned at present. In another POS application, the department is partnering with Smart Receipt, a software provider whose Nutricate product prints nutritional data on register receipts. That software, up to now mostly found in QSR restaurants, was adapted to automatically receive nutritional data from UCSFMC’s menu, production and nutrition management system. Nutrition data for any given portion size, even for rotating specials, can be downloaded for use on retail receipts.

“We also have the ability to do ‘line busting’ in peak periods,” Henroid says, referring to the strategy warehouse clubs use when checkout lines grow too long. “Our supervisors can bring out scanner-enabled interactive tablets and portable receipt printers that that let them check out people in line with credit or FastPay cards without waiting for the cashier.”

According to Ami Bhow, assistant director of patient food services, a major project underway now is to develop an electronic record interface to allow physicians to create paperless diet orders at bedside. Bhow shares Henroid’s vision for integrating systems throughout food production and service, “beginning at the back door, where we have to ensure we have the most accurate nutritional data available for received product. From a consumer safety and labeling point of view, you can’t just substitute one product for another today—consumers demand true transparency in these areas.”

“The big goal,” says Henroid, “is to leverage the information our systems have and use it in ways that improve our products and services— and in the case of nutrition services, the outcomes of our employees and patients. We are not the food police, but we do want to keep customers informed and give them the tools to make better choices.”

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