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Maple in operation on Toughbook CF-H1

For the child patients the system makes it visual and fun to order their meals, which encourages them to eat, sometimes a major issue in children’s hospitals

Bracknell, UK. 25th April, 2012: A new electronic food ordering and management system is set to revolutionise mealtimes on hospital wards. Trialled at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and now being rolled out across the Trust, the system uses Panasonic Toughbooks and a Birmingham Children’s Hospital concept that has been developed as a software application named ‘Maple’.

Unable to find a software application suitable for hospital use for electronic food ordering, the Trust commissioned Birmingham specialist software application developer Ambinet to design the comprehensive Maple solution.

The Ambinet development team shadowed the process used by the people involved from patient, ward staff, clinical staff (Dieticians) and Sodexo (Food service provider) – this was a learning cycle which the developers used to understand what happened manually and what was required of the software system.

The hospital also reviewed suitable hardware for the application and quickly settled on the Panasonic Toughbook CF-H1 medical clinical assistant tablet.

Meal times made simple

Nurses can add patients to the system as they arrive on the ward. When it comes to food ordering for the day, the menu is available on the Toughbook tablet device. The nurse can either hand the tablet to the patient for them to make their choices or make the order for them at the bedside.

All menu options are displayed in a visual image format. Patients use the touchscreen device to work their way through the menu, viewing the meal options, any allergy information and a full description of the meal, and making their choices by tapping on the order button. Once the order has been completed, the tablet can be handed back to the nurse and is ready for the next patient.

Nurses can review all orders, add any specific dietary notes or instructions as required and send the orders electronically to the kitchen at their convenience, individually or in batches.

Nurses are then able to use the device to track or update orders throughout the day. Even if a patient has to move wards during the day, the nurse simply updates the patient status on the device and their meal delivery details are automatically changed to ensure the patient receives their food on the new ward.

From a patient’s viewpoint, as well as ordering food, the devices are also used for patient satisfaction surveys on the quality of the food provided.

Dietician involvement

Hospital dieticians can access the application on the ward, or remotely from other areas in the hospital, to assist their patients. The dietary choices of the patient can be reviewed and analysed, as each menu choice contains details on its ingredients and calorific value. Dieticians can also specify special diets and menu choices for individual patients as required.

In the Main Production Kitchen, orders and updates are received in realtime and chefs can refer to special notes or dietician requests when they are preparing each meal.

For the Trust, catering information and financial reports are now available at the touch of the button, as each meal and their ingredients are automatically tracked by the application, including any wastage and the cost of these actions.

Benefits throughout the system

For the child patients the system makes it visual and fun to order their meals, which encourages them to eat, sometimes a major issue in children’s hospitals.

For nurses the new Maple system means less time filling in paperwork and running backwards and forwards to the Main Production Kitchen and more time on the ward with patients.

For the Dieticians, it makes it easier to prescribe, manage and record patient dietary information for the good of the patient.

For the Main Production Kitchen and Trust it delivers a more transparent and efficient catering service, potentially enabling significant cash savings.

The system, which also has messages in six different languages, has been trialed on two wards at the hospital over a 3-month period and now is being rolled out to the other 15 wards across the hospital.

Toughbook CF-H1 designed for life on a busy ward

The Panasonic Toughbook CF-H1 mobile clinical assistant has been designed for use on busy hospital wards. The visual display is clear and bright and the touchscreen display is ideal for easy use by patients and medical staff alike.

The CF-H1 is also very easy for staff and patients to carry, use and hold in one hand because of its integrated handle, lightweight design and long battery life. And lastly, the CF-H1 has been designed specifically for medical use, so it is easy to clean and disinfect to meet Hospital Safety Certifications and is tough enough to stand up to 90cm drops and the day-to-day exposure of life on a busy hospital ward.

At Birmingham, the devices run Windows 7 to make the touchscreen display easy to use and they transfer information over the hospital’s Wi-Fi network.

This innovation is the first touch screen, patient centered, automated food ordering system of its kind within the NHS. Once the implementation has been completed a full case study will be issued outlining the process followed and benefits.

About Birmingham Children’s Hospital

The Children’s Hospital has been an iconic service at the heart of the city since 1862 and from small beginnings it’s grown to become an international centre with state-of-the-art facilities and ground-breaking treatments that are helping to save growing numbers of youngsters with life-threatening conditions. There is hardly a family in the West Midlands whose lives haven’t been touched by the Hospital. Each year it cares for almost 250,000 babies and children, many from the region but some sent from all over Europe, because of the BCH specialists’ expertise and world-class skills.

About Ambinet

Ambinet is a UK-based software development company providing exceptional bespoke software solutions for the commercial and healthcare sectors including the NHS. The quality of our staff and project management ensures that we unfailingly deliver solutions on time, on budget and to the highest level of quality assurance. Our philosophy is to design highly usable, reliable solutions that solve problems for our customers.

Our solutions are based on a deep understanding of customers and their needs. In our team everybody has the job of making sure the solutions we develop delight our customers. Our expertise and the technology used in developing these solutions allow seamless integration into existing systems.

It's all about an attitude that a great piece of software starts and ends with the person who is going to use that software. We aim to provide solutions that stimulate innovation and deliver ongoing service improvements.

About Panasonic System Communications Company Europe (PSCEU)

PSCEU is the European branch of Panasonic Systems Communications Company, the global B2B division of Panasonic. PSCEU’s goal is to improve the working lives of business professionals and help their organization’s efficiency and performance. We help organizations capture, compute and communicate all sorts of information: image, voice, and textual data. Products include PBX telephone switches, document printers, professional cameras, projectors, large visual displays and rugged mobile PCs. With around 500 staff, engineering design expertise, global project management capability and a large European partner network, PSCEU offers unrivalled capability in its markets.

PSCEU is made up of four business divisions:

• Communication Solutions including professional scanners, multifunctional printers, telephony systems and HD video conferencing systems.
• Visual System Solutions including projectors, interactive whiteboards, presentation aids and displays. Panasonic is the European market leader in projectors with 28% revenue share.
• Professional Camera Solutions including professional audio visual, security and integrated machine vision (IMV) technology. Panasonic is one of the top two professional camera vendors in Europe. The Professional Camera division held an average of 18% market share across Europe for the 12 months up until September 2011 (Source: FutureSource; Volume based sales, total pro camera products)
• Computer Product Solutions including the Toughbook range of rugged notebooks, Toughpad business tablets and electronic point of sales (EPOS) systems. Panasonic Toughbook is European rugged notebook market leader with 62.9% market share in 2010 (VDC, June 2011)

Panasonic Corporation is a worldwide leader in the development and manufacture of electronic products for a wide range of consumer, business, and industrial needs. Based in Osaka, Japan, the company recorded consolidated net sales of 8.69 trillion yen (€79 billion) for the year ended March 31, 2011. The company's shares are listed on the Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and New York (NYSE:PC) stock exchanges. For more information on the company and the Panasonic brand, visit the company's website at

For further information:
Paul Smith, Amber Group: Tel: +44 (0)7770 828525 or

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of The Amber Group in the following categories: Medical & Pharmaceutical, Computing & Telecoms, for more information visit