South Miami Hospital is conducting a pilot program that provides patients with a hand-held wireless device that enables them to order meals in English, Spanish or French developed by a South Florida technology company, Taylannas. The unit speaks to patients and displays text in their chosen language and is designed to serve visually impaired, elderly, and non English-speaking patients.

“Being able to hear choices described in your own language, instead of struggling to read a menu, makes a huge difference in a person’s hospital stay,” said  Susan Perry, inventor of Menus That Talk and president of Taylannas.  “The complex changes underway in healthcare underscore the importance of patient satisfaction, an ongoing goal in the Baptist Health system known for its innovative approaches to quality patient care.”

Perry developed the original Menus That Talk as an aid to a close relative with an advanced case of Stargardt disease, a form of macular degeneration that severely limits vision. The hospital version truly crosses language barriers, she said. “Regardless of what language the patient orders in, the food choices will appear in English in the kitchen, eliminating the potential for mistakes or misunderstanding. In the future, we can add any other language as the patient population changes.”

For hospitals, the use of a talking menu reduces printing expenses and staff costs. The  technology developed with the advice of Dietary Management at South Miami Hospital also allows for nearly instant changes in menu content and can provide dieticians with greater control to fine-tune each patient’s nutrition, Perry said.

Menus That Talk is one of a number of interactive voice information systems Taylannas created or is developing.

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