Meet Meal Vision. This world-first AI-enabled solution is making a difference to peoples’ lives in a major way.
Developed by global food and support services company, Compass Group Australia, together with Deloitte and AerVision, Meal Vision is already being used to combat malnutrition in aged care facilities in Australia. However, the potential to optimise nutritional intake in defence forces, education, and even among athletes, is game-changing.
Why did Meal Vision begin in aged care facilities?
The aged care sector, a $23.6 billion industry in Australia, is currently facing the growing risk of severe malnutrition amongst its elderly residents.
A 2021 study by the Royal Commission of Aged Care Quality & Safety says the risk of malnutrition is at a staggering 68%. This issue has a significant impact on the wellbeing of the elderly, including a higher risk of illness, slower recovery time and decline in overall health[3,4].
Families sending their loved ones to aged care facilities are faced with the devastation of these risks, despite paying up to $21,000 per year. On top of this, if residents are served meals that do not meet their tracked preferences, this can lead to large quantities of food wastage. Unfortunately, tracking food consumption to uphold quality standards at this scale has historically been widely complex and difficult to achieve.
We all know someone living in aged care; this solution is revolutionising that experience. It is tackling the issue of malnutrition headfirst, drastically improving the lives and health of the elderly, while also bringing peace of mind to their families. Meal Vision has not only transformed lives, but with this solution, Compass Group has created a first of its kind offering in the aged care market.
James Triggs, Director, Deloitte Consulting Data and AI
James Triggs, Director, Deloitte Consulting Data and AI, says, “We all know someone living in aged care; this solution is revolutionising that experience. It is tackling the issue of malnutrition headfirst, drastically improving the lives and health of the elderly, while also bringing peace of mind to their families. Meal Vision has not only transformed lives, but with this solution, Compass Group has created a first of its kind offering in the aged care market.”
Explaining why Meal Vision is such a critical innovation, Lea Cornelius, Chief Information Officer at Compass Group Australia says, “The data provides accurate insights about the nutritional value consumed by residents, as well as early detection of malnutrition or changed eating behaviours. The information assists staff and clinicians by informing and optimising personalised care plans. Over time, the data will strengthen and identify individual and collective trends.”
How does Meal Vision work?
This pioneering AI-assisted food scanning and meal planning solution has two main components – the Meal Vision Scanning Unit and the Meal Vision AI Platform.
Residents in aged care facilities collect their meal, then place their personalised plate (using an RFID tag) onto the scanner before they eat. They then simply return their plate to the scanning device when they have finished. The unit features a high-resolution camera, radio frequency identification, and, most importantly, the LiDAR scanner for measuring the food. This allows data which shows exactly what, and how much has been eaten.
The data is then fed to the Meal Vision AI Platform hosted on AWS Cloud, which analysis consumption over time and shares that information through a database to carers, caterers, medical teams and even relatives.
1. Mitigating the risk of malnutrition
Before Meal Vision, staff in aged care facilities would usually recognise a risk of malnutrition once a resident started to lose weight. Now, they can spot at-risk signs ahead of time, with Meal Vision flagging consumption-related warnings, so that medical teams, caterers and carers can take informed actions with a focus on nutrition and quality care.
Michael Foenander, General Manager of Senior Living at Compass Group Australia says, “Modern technology, like Meal Vision, is a gamechanger. It can provide clinicians information and accurate insights to inform decisions. We’re also witnessing how critical it is to extend this information to family members, with the enhanced visibility enabling trust in the care provided to a patient.”
2. Optimising and personalising nutrition
Meal Vision can inform optimal nutritional intake, with the ability to analyse patterns of consumption and detect early indicators of deficiencies. It can also tell a story about the types of food that people enjoy or dislike, allowing a more personalised meal plan for every individual. The implications within schools, defence forces and athletes could ensure optimal nutrition plans matched to personal preferences and lifestyle needs. Furthermore, the data can help develop efficient supply strategies and prevent unnecessary food waste.
“Using Meal Vision, we can tailor meals specifically to people’s preferences and health needs, as part of a holistic, personalised care plan,” says Suzy Hudson, Executive Director of Healthcare at Compass Group Australia. “The AI technology can automate the food ordering and menu creation process, as well as track the consumption and nutritional value of food by scanning and assessing the meal before and after it’s served. The real-time data recorded is more accurate than possible by a human.”
3. Relieving workforce capacity
Using AI and Generative AI to relieve healthcare workers of manual administrative tasks, whilst providing access to accurate, timely information.
James Triggs, Data & AI at Deloitte Australia, anticipates AI will be invaluable in both high- and low-value tasks. “Generative AI can expertly transcribe and summarise consultations, analyse and identify trends, and can also assist in roles as vital as triaging patients. Saving time and energy for all involved and ensuring a greater level of accuracy, documentation, structure and data analysis. This will free up healthcare professionals for more holistic, higher quality care for patients.”
4. The Future: beyond aged care
Already making a difference to the lives of residents, carers, medical teams and caterers in Australian aged care facilities, Meal Vision is forging a game-changing path that can realise optimal nutrition for everyone.
“Using AI and machine learning to analyse data, including scans, will be pivotal in improving preventative care and the quality of diagnostics. Preventing or identifying a health problem early – from malnutrition to glaucoma – means we can avoid a patient falling into crisis with limited access to urgent treatments, as well as reduce the total cost of care,” says Kale Temple, Data and AI expert at Deloitte Australia.