Background & aims: To improve hospital health care delivery by identifying malnutrition in all admitted patients and following up those identified to be malnourished and "at risk of developing malnutrition" a hospital nutrition support program based on the JCAHO system was initiated in 1999. Two major problems were encountered: first, the inability to perform a nutrition surveillance process due to failure by the staff to implement existing nutrition screening tools and second, the lack of awareness and support from the medical staff in this initiative. Two solutions were implemented in 2000: computerization of the nutrition screening and nutrition support process and synchronizing this with the whole nutrition support program.
Methods: A computer program was developed which performs BMI-based nutrition screening, produces lists of all malnourished patients, and computes the different formulas for either nutritional requirement or parenteral and/or enteral formulation. It also generates patient status reports based on encoded data from the nutrition support team, which prioritized these patients for management based on the data output.
Results: From 2000 to 2003, improvement was seen in these areas: entry of height and weight in the patient record increased from 30% to 90%; nutrition surveillance shows nutritional status distribution to be: normal (58%), underweight (9%), overweight (25%), and obese (8%), referrals to the nutrition support team based on the screen notification increased from 37% to 100%, patient coverage by nutrition support services increased from 7374 (38.8%) in 2000 to 11,369 (83%) in 2003, and critical care patients seen increased from 10% in 2000 to 99% in 2003. More improvement is needed in physician response to nutrition support recommendations, which still remains low (11.2-24%).
Conclusions: Computerization helps to improve nutrition support delivery in the hospital, but more cooperation and support from the medical staff is still needed for better results.