6 Questions To Answer Before Bringing In A Feeding Management System

If you are considering a feeding management system, here are the 6 things you need to know about your organization.

  1. What are your compliance goals?
  2. Who is preparing feeds?
  3. Which units need the solution?
  4. When should each site go live?
  5. How do you approach staff and clinical education?
  6. Why should your institution make a change?

What are your compliance goals?

Hospitals contact us to improve the safety of their feeding management process. Typically they are aligning new safety goals with compliance goals set by external bodies. Examples include:

  • Passing The Joint Commission’s review with flying colors
  • Achieving HIMSS Stage 7 validation
  • Improving the Leapfrog hospital safety grade
  • Joining their state’s hospital quality consortium 

Focusing on the above are all signs that an institution takes safety seriously. Whatever the impetus, it is important to determine what data, metrics, or outcomes you want to be able to track and report.

Who is preparing feeds?

It’s not as straightforward as one might think. Hospital staff (nurses, PCAs, techs) can own preparation work, and so can third-party food service contractors. For example, staff may prepare for the NICU while the third-party prepares for pediatric floors. Or staff prepare human milk hospital-wide and the third-party prepares all formulas products. We see these hybrids in hospitals and across IDNs. Clinical leaders in hospitals are surprised to learn who is actually responsible for preparation for one unit versus another. Understanding your current setup saves hand wringing and gets the right stakeholders in the room/on the Zoom to break down silos.

Which units need the solution?

If one group prepares human milk and formula for the entire hospital, you are in good shape. But that’s less common in reality. The NICU may have its own central prep (nurses or techs) while pediatric floors use a combination of central preparation for human milk and beside preparation for complex formulas. A health system may have different preparation models at each hospital. Map out the units where feeds are administered and the group(s) outside the units that prepare feeds – nutrition labs, milk banks, pharmacy, food services – to name a few. 

When should each site go live?

This decision depends on what you learned above. Can you phase roll out? Should it be all at once? If a central preparation lab serves the NICU as well as pediatric floors, phasing roll out to the NICU first could be a problem: creating two workflows and double effort for the central preparation group. For health systems with multiple hospitals, phasing the roll out to one hospital at a time could be ideal and it may support phased training and education for staff per site. Figuring out the best go live for your institution has a number of dependencies  

How do you approach education?

Right-sized education on new technology is crucial for current staff as well as future hires who need to onboard. Some health systems develop their own Centers of Excellence to set internal standards for training, competencies, and reskilling/upskilling. However, many hospital staff educators are spread thin. It’s critical that your stakeholders understand what resources are available and what is realistic. Here are the facets to training models we have used for our feeding management clients:

  • Train the Trainer
  • All Staff Training
  • Virtual Training (via Zoom, Teams, etc.)
  • In-Person Training
  • Learning Management Systems (LMS)
  • Sandbox Environments (practice websites)

Each of these categories comes with options. How would you approach the “Train the Trainer” model? Some hospitals employee Nurse Educators who are trained by the vendor to become the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and lead training of their nursing staff. A Charge Nurse, Clinical Nurse Specialist, and others in leadership roles could also become SME trainers and Super Users. When staff are spread thin, hospitals may employee a third-party group that specializes in professional training for staff, leaders and super users. There are more options and versions of Train the Trainer, but this provides a preview of things to consider.

Why should your institution make a change?

This could be the first or the last question to consider. Either way, it is the most important. We see champions of change come from every corner of the hospital. The initiative may come from Nurse Managers and Lactation Consultants, Service Line Leaders and Chief Nursing Officers, or Medical Directors and Quality & Safety Officers. It may be bundled in with a larger project like reducing infections hospital-wide or creating a new space with milk/formula lab. Ideally, hospitals want to make a change because the outcomes is better for staff and patients, and the costs are more predictable.

We know that every hospital and health system is principally concerned with the safety of its staff and its patients. Making the change to a new feeding management system falls under the same scrutiny as other systems. Will it take some of the burden off of our staff? Does it make the process safer? How do we know it’s working? If your institution can not really measure these outcomes today, perhaps you need a feeding management system that will help you benchmark and then track improvement.

Asim Malik is Head of Sales for Keriton.