“Milk management” isn’t a phrase that most people associate with critical care, but here at the Health Practice in Sierra Systems, an NTT DATA Company, it’s an important part of the overall health system. For decades, we have helped hospitals, departments and care units focus on the specific demands of their health workflow. Our teams have brought in new technologies that improve care and are flexible enough to support the massive range of health services provided in Canada; this is how our team recently brought infant feeding and milk management into our scope.  

Each infant in a Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) is fed expressed breastmilk, donor breastmilk, or infant formula, up to 12 times a day. As a mother’s breastmilk and added fortifiers are specific to each child, a miss-feeding is considered a critical incident. When caring for dozens of infants, ensuring each child is given the correct nutritional product requires an accurate system of validation of the correct milk or formula to the right infant using data that identifies the infant.   

Sierra Systems has recently worked alongside dietitians, diet techs, and nurses to implement a digital infant nutrition management system, redefining parts of the existing workflow and make changes to clinical practices to incorporate new milk management technology. 

Baby Steps 

Infant identification bands are not new but have been improved.  Our teams were able to help Health Information Services by developing thermal printed ID bands with additional data including a barcode specific to each infant.  These ID bands are durable, easy to read, and they enable nurses to scan barcodes to identify infants.  

 Positive patient identification starts with printed barcode labels for containers at the time of collection.   Each labeled milk container is scanned and associated with the infant it belongs to when it is entered into the system.  At each bedside, clinical staff can scan both the infants’ ID band and the barcode on the bottle (or feeding syringe) using clinical workstations or a web-enabled handheld device. These confirm positive patient identification (PPID) and help secure the milk management workflow.  

 Nurses and diet techs scan the patient identifiers when milk is received, divided, combined, fortified, and before it is fed to an infant.  This technology and process help confirm that each feed is properly identified at each step, removing reliance on manual patient identifier checks. 

 This is just one example of the ongoing work Sierra Systems’ Health Practice performs at hospitals and clinics across Canada. Our experts are proud to work directly with clinical teams to find new ways to improve patient care and bring better experiences to patients of all ages.