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Poor nutrition is a significant challenge nowadays. The pace of life is fast, and the time people spend on meal planning is critically tight. It leads to serious health problems including obesity, vascular heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer.
Doctors insist that an unhealthy diet has a more damaging impact than physical inactivity coupled with tobacco and alcohol consumption. According to the BMA’s media brief, diseases caused by bad nutrition result in about 70,000 premature deaths per year. What is more, the National Health Service has to allocate about £5.8 billion annually dealing with diet-related issues.
The issue of bad nutrition is becoming more and more vital for the healthcare industry by the day. We leave in the digital age, and present-day inventions allow medical centres to raise the quality of provided healthcare services through effective tech solutions. They prompt people to keep a sensible diet and enable physicians to establish strong interaction with patients. In turn, it gives a competitive edge for hospitals as they can engage more customers to make use of their medical services.
This year has come with 67% of unique mobile users worldwide. They have spent £78 billion on mobile apps, and the category “Health&Fitness” has been in the top 10 of the most on-demand apps.
The mHealth market was estimated at £1.9 billion in 2017, and this number is predicted to exceed £8.5 billion by the year 2025. In general, the role of mobile health solutions in people’s lives is growing. Patients are intended for closer communication with physicians and facilitated method to monitor their health status.
What are the certain reasons for the increasing tendency to apply mobile apps in health care?
The mHealth approach is focused on a person’s willingness. It is meant to boost patients to achieve better outcomes and provide real-time communication with an attending doctor. User’s health status data, shared through the app, allows a physician to explore each case more deeply and provide better treatment.
Mobile applications facilitate recording, storage and processing of patients’ health indicators as well as provide advanced analytical tools while reducing paperwork by 60%. Users can make necessary health measurements, export some indicators from wearable devices and key them into the app. Then doctors receive this information in comprehensive statistical and analytical reports. As a result, treatment has a predictive and preventive character contributing to the right decision making.
Most people want to reduce hospital stay because of mental discomfort and stress. They can reduce the time spent in a hospital by 59% since mobile applications make it possible to monitor patient’s health status remotely. People can track some health indicators and pass this data to a doctor.
The Global Consumer Insights Survey 2019 has revealed that 75% of 21,480 respondents keep about 3 healthcare applications on their mobile devices. In addition, 43% of respondents have apps related to a balanced diet and weight control. Studied statistics show that mobile application area is spreading fast because of its beneficial impact on people’s health, especially nutrition behaviour.
Although people have unfettered access to information related to bad diet consequences, they continue eating unhealthy food. The reason is people are self-indulgent and habit addicted. They need a third-party control, clearly determined goals and direct feedback. Mobile health applications provide these capabilities improving patients nutrition behaviour.
According to the Brigham Young University’s survey, people are more focused on health goals setting and its progress tracking due to app gamification. 94.4% of participants have noticed that mHealth increases their ability to achieve desired outcomes, and 96.7% - have agreed that mobile applications increase the motivation to keep a good diet.
This research shows that people change nutrition behaviour more easily if their health goals are visualised in a smartphone. As patients can view outcomes and effectiveness of treatment, they become more motivated to keep healthy diet and maintain good health.
The survey has also revealed 69.6% of participants realised that poor diet is extremely hostile towards their health, and 77.4% - agreed proper nutrition can prevent these negative consequences. In general, 96.4% of participants said that mobile health apps are useful for them, and 90.7% would recommend the apps to others. These facts confirm the necessity of nutrition applications for hospitals in order to raise the quality of healthcare services as well as patients’ awareness of diet-related risks.
As has been noted, the software that helps to keep a good diet increases the value of medical services for people and educates them about proper nutrition. In addition, diet applications bring additional values for optimisation of hospital business processes related to promotion, development, management, and finance specifically:
Saving in marketing expenses. With the help of mobile apps, physicians can give 29% more attention to each patient and see 2 more patients per day. It contributes to higher consumer satisfaction leading to positive comments and firsthand recommendations. Good reviews, in turn, increase people’s awareness of a hospital and attract more patients to obtain its medical services. As such, mHealth helps in reducing costs on the engagement of new health consumers.
Service use optimisation. Mobile applications allow patients to communicate with their attending doctor remotely and receive medical grounds without leaving home. It minimises service use enabling healthcare institutions to be focused on more crucial assignments. In addition, a preventive type of mHealth solutions allows decreasing patients’ admissions by 35% and using the A&E department by 53%. It saves considerable financial resources for hospitals to invest in its development and improvement.
Powerful analytical tool. The application provides an opportunity to generate easy-to-analyse reports consisting of valuable patients’ data. A doctor obtains detailed information about a patient’s health status and nutrition in intelligible tables and charts. Recorded statistical data is of predictive, comparative, and personalised nature. It encourages physicians to make the right decision and sensible modifications to treat all the patients effectively.
Efficient nutrition literacy assessment instrument. The software checks precisely if patients’ food intakes match the created nutrition plan. It helps physicians to set the right portion sizes with appropriate food energy and notifies patients if they consume more than the meal plan allows. An attending doctor can simply track the impact of proper diet on patient’s health indicators. Therefore, the nutrition app visualises treatment outcomes enabling to assess and improve the nutrition plan effectively.
Support & feedback. The nutrition app is focused on effective support for every patient. Due to mHealth hospitals can establish real-life doctor-patient interaction improving health consumers’ experience and satisfaction. Thus, patients can assess the quality of the provided health care. In turn, hospitals can reveal their strengths and weaknesses for further service improvement.
To summarise, the nutrition software includes the features which are favourable for people’s health as well as hospital development. It allows providing the most convenient interaction with the app for either an attending doctor or a patient. Such a way the software is capable of meeting the needs of every user and helping them to achieve better health outcomes.
From the hospital side, the software helps doctors in nutrition plan creation and patients core health indicators tracking. From the patient side, it assists people to intake proper food at the right time points and follow medical prescription carefully. The sides are linked comprehensively due to a patient diary. The patient diary is a detailed table consisting of data related to food intakes and health conditions recorded by a patient. The algorithm for keeping the diary is the following :
To ensure convenient user experience for each user hospital nutrition software provides versions for the web (hospital side) and mobile (patient side) interfaces. There are three user roles for an attending doctor, patient, and administrator who introduces new medical staff and expands the health consumers' database.
Attending Doctor’s Capabilities
An attending doctor is responsible for patient invitations, medical cards’ creation, and health statuses tracking.
Patient card. First, the doctor adds and fills in a patient card or integrates it with an EMR system. Next, they list appropriate nutrition products. For a quick foods selection, physicians can set filters in accordance with a food category and the required number of food energy and nutrients.
Diet plan and goals set. When the patient card is ready, the doctor creates a nutrition plan, chooses indicators for tracking, and sets desired health goals. After that, they send to the patient an invitation (login and password). The final step is the control of patients’ nutrition and health indicators by following their responses and recorded data analysis.
Nutrition patterns recommendation. At every new diet plan creation, the app suggests to a doctor already existing nutrient patterns which meet the needs of the current patient. In this way, physicians can use gathered information again and reduce diet planning time.
After a patient obtains an invitation from their doctor, they log in the app and start keeping the nutrition diary.
Food intakes. When it is time to eat, a person selects food items from the list. Patients must keep with diet limits set by the doctor. If they make a mistake (for example, chose incorrect portion size), the app displays a warning notification. People can also write notes about their general state and health changes. When all data are entered, the patient must click the “Save” button.
Health tracking. At determined time points, patients have to track and key in their health conditions required by the doctor. After the measurement, a person puts indicator values in the app and clicks the “Save” button (a person has to put these measures in the app and click the “Save” button). People can also edit all entered information if there is some incorrect data.
Notification system. The system includes two types of instant messages - regular and alarm. Regular notifications are reminders of scheduled food intakes or time to measure health indicators. Alarm messages inform an attending doctor about critical divergences of health indicators or patients’ health deterioration. They also encourage patients to see a doctor.
Reporting and data analysis. This section includes clear charts and diagrams displaying the dynamics of tracked indicators, health goals, and the correlation between changes in nutrition behaviour and health status. The doctor can compare measures at different time points to analyse health outcomes and put all necessary information into comprehensive reports. Patients are able to view their progress and health indicators changing.
Live chat. For most hospitals, it is necessary to keep a constant connection for patients to make them feel supported. In this regard, the nutrition app can include a messenger providing an opportunity for direct doctor-patient communication. Therefore, physicians can give extra assistance to people who are frustrated and need advice.
There is a variety of harmful consequences caused by poor and inadequate nutrition. People are aware of them, but they are unable to prevent them without external control and a special health guide. In addition, physicians wonder how to monitor nutrition and hydration of multiple patients through the one universal analytical solution.
The strongest incentive for modern people to change their health behaviour is in their smartphones. Most of the health consumers are encouraged to keep a proper diet with the help of nutrition application. In addition, such software delivers patients’ health data easily at a time in a comprehensive manner.
The nutrition analysis software is a program encouraging patients to achieve better health status and contributing to their faster recuperation. Such a way, the program allows hospitals to enhance the quality of provided healthcare services and raise patient loyalty.
Furthermore, it helps to distribute hospital resources evenly and improve a number of processes in terms of administration, marketing, and innovation.
In conclusion, numerous researches and reports confirm that people are ready to modify their diet habits with the help of nutrition apps. The mHealth market is growing by the years, and people are becoming more engaged in leading a healthy lifestyle due to tech solutions. This fact opens great potential for the healthcare industry to enhance people’s quality of life starting with their nutrition behaviour improvement.