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Product Design

Tray Logistics

Tray Monitor -> Tray Logistics

There was a hospital in Michigan using Tray Monitor. A patient at that hospital ordered a routine meal. He had no allergies, restrictions, or surgeries coming up and the man was hangry. In between the time he ordered and received his tray with food a lot had happened. In that short time frame, the Doctor had paid him a visit and determined for the patient's own safety, he should be administered an all-liquid diet. The system was updated to reflect the diet change, but the person who monitors incoming alerts was off that day and no one caught the alert. The tray of solid food made its way to the patient. He ate his meal and choked. Thankfully, staff was available to perform emergency CPR. The patient survived but it shed light on a huge problem with Tray Monitor.

As Tray Monitor looks like it hasn't been updated since 2001 nor touched by a designer, the company wanted to create a more effective tray tracking software. Enter Tray Logistics. Tray Logistics (TL) is a complete overhaul of Tray Monitor including all the same functions and more. On top of track tracking, pick up, and intake monitoring, Tray Logistics offers Smart Batching, live alerts, patient wristband scanning verification, and much more.

TLDR; Tray Logistics was my first taste of service design and the most challenging product I've worked on to date. Tray Logistics (TL) pulls data from 3 other Cbord apps: Room Service Choice for room service calls, Cbord Patient for app orders, and NetMenu for settings. TL was supposed to be a beefed up version of an older product, Tray Monitor, but due to time constraints the MVP made it a makeover of the existing Tray Monitor. With the prior experienced team gone, we had a new team and lots of challenges along the way. Jumping in around after the 1st iteration usability testing, we went in a different design direction and it's way sexier now.

1-2 Years
Tools Used
Sketch, Figma, Jira, Whimsical, Photoshop
UX, PM, BA, Dev
2019 - 2021

Tray Logistics is Tray Monitor's replacement with a Smart Batch feature. Smart Batching is the system automatically grouping trays into slots on carts based on time and where the destination is in the hospital. The system tells the kitchen staff where to place a tray to minimize accidentally giving a patient the wrong tray. Tray Logistics is a tray monitoring tool that allows the tracking of a tray in its lifecycle going from kitchen to patient and from patient to dish room. It increases delivery efficiency though tasks and timer feature. The app provides visibility for staff who need to know the status of the tray and how much the patient has eaten. With patient health and safety as the priority, Tray Logistics helps hospital staff by taking the confusing organization and thinking out of the job.

Tray Logistics Vocab Cheat Sheet:

Checkpoints - Location in the tray lifecycle
Runner/Deliverer/Courrier - Kitchen staff that runs trays and carts to patients or Nursing Stations
Expeditor - Kitchen staff responsible for making sure trays have the correct food, place in a slot on a cart, and assign a runner to deliver the cart
Units/Nursing Station - Area on a hospital floor where nurses work and deliverers drop off trays
PHI - Protected Health Information
HIPAA - Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act protects sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient's consent or knowledge


Jumping into a product at the testing phase allowed for a lot to discover!

Taking notes and sketching ideas on the screens from the 1st usability test
  • Personas
               ◦ Nurse Nina - Monitor patient remotely, ensure patient is taking medication/eating at the right time
              ◦  Pauline the Patient - Rest, be aware/follow of diet restrictions and medications necessary for treatment
              ◦  Call Center Carla - Being point of contact for a patient about their order, answer questions about food orders to nursing
              ◦  Expeditor Ernie - Ensure patient's order is correct, promote orders to next checkpoint (i.e., ready for delivery), place trays in carts based on destination, verify quality of food product  
              ◦  Delivery Dan - Selecting carts and delivering, marking carts as taken for delivery, meals as delivered through hospital provided technology
  • Usability Testing
          ◦ The first usability test was tested with a Delivery App for Deliverers, an app for Expeditors, and another app for Supervisors. Overall, it tested pretty poorly and allowed for creative free rein.
  • Tray Monitor
          ◦ The first thing we needed to do was understand where we were starting. There is a Tray Monitor Demo video I have watch probably 30 times trying to understand the full breadth and capability of the software. Majority of the screens were almost identical with varying capabilities which made it all the more confusing to understand. We created a site map of the existing app and created Venn diagrams to see what information overlapped with other areas. This allowed us to decide if we could condense or merge any features.
  • User & Order Flow-

Problems to Solve

  • Eliminate Mistakes
         ◦ In hospitals, it is crucial there is no mismanagement of trays. Strict diets, allergies, medication, can all play a part in a patient's diet. If the patient happens to get the wrong food it can be fatal. Things can change very quickly in hospitals, so its vital Tray Logistics can stay up to date and alert the staff of patient changes.
  • Minimize Training in a High Turnover Job
         ◦ The kitchen staff has a high turn over rate and little time to train new employees. The redesign needs to be understandable and usable.
  • Replace Tray Monitor
         ◦ Tray Monitor is the first version of tray monitoring. It's a clunky eyesore, hard to understand, and use. It could be more effective in helping hospital staff keep patients safe.

MVP Features

To meet a tight deadline, we had to scrap the incredible ideas and technology that would make Tray Logistics second to no competitor. We shifted our focus to more achievable, existing features rather than new, intensive ones.

  • Settings
          ◦ Admin need to be able to set up TL based on the hospitals criteria. Checkpoint and total time can be changed. Cook times per food item can be entered. Checkpoint colors can be customized. Name and cart capacity and number of carts can be configured.
  • Alerts
          ◦ Things change all the time in hospitals. Staff needs to be aware of room and diet changes immediately to ensure the safety of the patients.
  • Patient Verification
          ◦ We need a way to verify the patient who gets the food is the one who ordered it without comprimising any Protected Health Information (PHI)
  • Tray Details & Patient Information
          ◦ In order to ensure the patients safety, information regarding diet, restrictions, and allergies need to be accessible to everyone involved in the process. The more eyes on it, the less likely there will be a rogue tray make it's way to the patient and possibly causing harm.
  • Mobile Intake
          ◦ Mobile Intake allows hospitals to record consumed food. This helps save the hospital money by making smart decisions regarding the meals prepared and food ordered. Mobile Intake also helps ensure the patients are getting the proper nutrients under hospital care.
  • Promote, Demote, Delete Trays
          ◦ Moving trays forward or backward through the tray lifecycle
Site Map for Tray Logistics version 1

Challenges & Obstacles

Tray Logistics wristband barcode scanner for quick verification and to avoid entering in patient PHI
         ◦ We needed a way to verify the food was going to the right patient without using PHI or any information that could identify patients. To comply with HIPAA, we came up with the wristband scanning as an alternative to entering PHI, but it still has a way to go. If the wristband cannot be scanned because a patient is sleeping, then we need another way to verify the patient. TL will be an international product. Keeping up to date with laws and regulations has been a key focus point in planning strategy.
  • User Research & User Testing Who?
         ◦ Covid-19 put research efforts on hold. The plan was to go to clients' hospitals to see how the staff interacted with Tray Monitor, find their painpoints and work arounds so we could address those in TL. Unfortunately, traveling has been put on hold until further notice. Anticipating each step in the user flow for people never met or a job never experienced has been so challenging.

  • Sketch ---> Figma
          ◦ In the middle of designing TL, we decided to switch platforms. We kept wanting to migrate to Figma from the Sketch/Abstract/SketchTeams/SketchCloud combo we were using. We made the change and it wrecked our projects. Our design system did not transfer smoothly. Most were completely unusable and had to be redone.
  • Accessibility & Design System
          ◦ Tray Monitor is a color-first app. Users rely heavily on colors to quickly see where a tray is, if it's running behind, and spot warnings. TL is the first product to implement our Aqua Design System (ADS). The ADS has limited colors that were carefully selected to be accessible, but our users and clients need more color to quickly visualize information. For the demo, we used pastels from the ADS, but users are able to customize colors in settings - possibly throwing visual accessibility out a window (brb crying).


We considered current users of Tray Monitor and how they would adjust to the Tray Logistics update. All the capabilities of Tray Monitor are present, but grouped into navigation tabs used by a specific user. We wanted to streamline the process.

Tray Card UI

The Tray card component has all of the same features and more. We spruced up the UI so it would be more in line with our branding, added labels to the times, used accessible typography and color combinations. The result is much cleaner and understandable.

(Left) Tray Monitor navigation had been condensed. The colors show which categories have merged. (Right) The navigation for Tray Logistics

Tray Monitor had a lot of similar menu options. When we Venn diagramed the features, we were able to merge a few of the navigation items together. The IA proved it was not necessary to have the same navigation points. In the picture, the colored boxes indicate merges.

  • Checkpoints and All Trays are now "Checkpoints" where the Expeditor and Kitchen Staff will spend most of their time.
  • Unit Details stands alone as "Units" for the Nurses.
  • Tray Pickup, Dashboard, and Mobile Intake were almost identical pages so we grouped them under "Tray Pickup" for the Deliverers.

Since the initial timeline was so short, Devs wanted to reuse as much code as possible. Some functionality remains the same but with a UI update.

(Top) Tray Monitor Details page nurses access to see an overview of patients, diets, and alerts.
(Bottom) Tray Logistics using the same patterns utilizing color to help nurses visualize important information

Unit Details

The Unit Details page is essential for Nurses to get an overview of what is happening in their area of the hospital. The table remains similar with the same information. Nurses can sort by room, ticket number, meal, delivery status, time printed, checkpoints, alerts, and in TL protocols. Nurses don't have time to learn a brand new software so we wanted to keep TL as close as possible to Tray Monitor. Some updates to the UI include:

  • Alert Icons
         ◦ Some icons are resembled after other Cbord products nurses use. There is a key in case someone is unfamiliar.
  • Accessibility
         ◦ Compliant contrasting text size and color
         ◦ Icons paired with text for added clarity
         ◦ Limited use of color to get important information recognized quickly
  • Filter Buttons
         ◦ Filters have been changed to buttons to align closer with design conventions


Moving Forward

Version 1 has launched in the Apple App Store and the Google App Store. Originally, TL was supposed to have game changing features like Smart Batching and GPS tracking. That got scrapped so we could make a tight deadline. Version 2 will have more bells and whistles including a live map, messaging, task management, and reports. It will be twice as challenging and twice as big.


Latest works