Patient ordering functionality, if done correctly, is a key part of increasing departmental efficiencies, reducing wastage and providing a better quality of customer service. There is no single method available to ensure 100% accuracy. However, MANNA from Swan Retail utilises technological advances, available infrastructures and administrative resource to provide a tool which can aid substantial improvements.

As is to be expected with a reputable piece of software, MANNA has gone through a number of major developments over the years. Its life started with requiring the manual input of orders from paper forms completed on the ward and brought to the catering team for processing. This setup resulted in a variety of setbacks, including forms being lost in transit and the processor not being able to decipher the information recorded on the form. Technological advances allowed optical mark readers to be introduced, resulting in an improvement in the speed and accuracy of order entry. Unfortunately, this came with a high cost associated with stocking the non-reusable forms. The readers were also very sensitive and would not accept forms which had been creased – we had users who used to iron the forms to allow them to be processed by the reader!

Improvements in the infrastructures available within hospitals enabled a ward-ordering model to be easily deployed. The system allowed all orders to be entered from the relevant ward, providing a personal approach with patients. The con here was that it required an increased level of resource from staff to interact with the patient and then update the system accordingly.

The roll out of Wi-Fi across customer sites provided the opportunity to develop tablet ordering, which provides visibility of meals and nutritional information in a single portable source, giving the patient a greater view of the options available to them. Due to the full integration between the tablet ordering functionality and the main system, a “Just In Time” delivery process can be operated, providing great improvements in wastage levels and customer satisfaction.

We are currently working with North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust on a trial basis and Leeds NHS Trust who wish to expand their use of tablet ordering across their estate due to the benefits they have experienced as a result of using it.

The next stage will be to make the information held in MANNA more widely available. We are now investigating secure hosted deployment of meal or snack ordering services across hospital employees, patients and even visitors with cashless and secure payment methods.

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