Poor nutrition is a significant challenge nowadays. The pace of life is fast, and the time people spend on meal planning is ever reducing, which can lead 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 every year. Furthermore, the National Health Service has to allocate about £5.8 billion annually to deal with diet-related issues.
The issue of poor nutrition is becoming more and more concerning for the healthcare industry by the day. We live 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 connections with patients. In turn, it gives a competitive edge for hospitals, as they can engage more customers to make use of their medical services.
As of this year, 67% of people worldwide are unique mobile users. They have spent £78 billion on mobile apps, and “Health & Fitness” has been one of the top 10 most in-demand categories.
The mHealth market was valued at approximately £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, as patients are offered closer communication with physicians and a facilitated method to monitor their health status.
What are the reasons for the increasing usage of mobile apps in health care?
The mHealth approach is focused on a person’s willingness. It is meant to encourage 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 the recording, storage and processing of patients’ health indicators, as well as provide advanced analytical tools, while reducing paperwork by up to 60%. Users can record necessary health measurements by exporting some indicators from wearable devices and keying 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 informed decision making.
Most people want to reduce hospital stays because of the accompanying mental discomfort and stress. Patients can reduce the time spent in a hospital by up to 59%, as mobile applications make it possible for doctors to monitor patients’ health status remotely. Users can track some health indicators and pass this data to their doctor.
The Global Consumer Insights Survey 2019 has revealed that 75% of 21,480 respondents have 3 healthcare applications on their mobile devices. In addition, 43% of respondents have apps related to a balanced diet and weight control. Statistics show that mobile applications in this area are increasing in popularity due to their beneficial impact on people’s health, particularly on nutritional behaviour.
Although people have unfettered access to information related to the consequences of poor dietary choices, they continue consuming unhealthy food. The reason is, people are self-indulgent and habit addicted -they need third-party control, clearly determined goals and direct feedback. Mobile health applications provide these capabilities improving patients’ nutritional behaviour.
According to the Brigham Young University survey, people are more focused on health goals setting and progress tracking due to app gamification. 94.4% of participants have noticed that mHealth increases their ability to achieve desired outcomes, while 96.7% agreed that mobile applications increase their motivation to stick to a good diet.
This research shows that people change nutritional 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 their diet healthy and maintain good health.
The survey also revealed that 69.6% of participants understood that poor diet is extremely detrimental to their health, and 77.4% agreed that 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 to raise the quality of their healthcare services, as well as increase patients’ awareness of diet-related risks.
As has been noted, the software that helps patients keep a healthy diet increases the value of medical services for people and educates them about proper nutrition. In addition, diet applications bring further opportunities for the 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 an additional 2 patients per day. This contributes to higher consumer satisfaction, leading to positive comments and first-hand 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 to reduce costs related to the engagement of new health consumers.
Service Use Optimisation
Mobile applications allow patients to communicate with their attending doctor remotely and receive medical advice without leaving their home. It minimises service use, enabling healthcare institutions to be focused on more crucial assignments. In addition, a preventive type of mHealth solution can decrease patient admissions by up 35% and A&E department usage by up to 53%. It saves considerable financial resources, which hospitals can instead invest in development and improvement.
Powerful Analytical Tool
The application provides an opportunity to generate easy-to-analyse reports consisting of valuable patient data. A doctor obtains detailed information about a patient’s health status and nutrition in intelligible tables and charts – the recorded statistical data is of a predictive, comparative, and personalised nature. It encourages physicians to make informed decisions and sensible modifications to treat all patients effectively.
Efficient Nutrition Literacy Assessment Instrument
The software checks precisely if a patient’s food intakes matches their specially created nutrition plan. It helps physicians to set the right portion sizes with the appropriate nutritional composition and notifies patients if they consume more than their meal plan allows. An attending doctor can simply track the impact of proper diet on a patient’s health indicators. Therefore, the nutrition app visualises treatment outcomes, enabling doctors 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, which improves health consumers’ experiences and satisfaction. Thus, patients can assess the quality of the provided health care and, in turn, hospitals can uncover their strengths and weaknesses for further service improvement.
To summarise, the nutrition software includes features which are favourable to people’s health, as well as hospital development. It is convenient to interact with, for both attending doctors and patients alike. As such, 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 with the creation of nutrition plans and the tracking of a patient’s core health indicators. From the patient side, it assists people in consuming proper food at the right time points and following a medical prescription carefully. The sides are linked comprehensively due to the patient diary; a detailed table consisting of data related to food intake and health conditions recorded by the patients themselves. The algorithm for keeping the diary is as following :
To ensure a convenient user experience for each user, hospital nutrition software provides versions for both web (hospital side) and mobile (patient side) interfaces. There are three user roles: an attending doctor, patient, and an administrator, who updates the app with new medical staff information and expands the patient database.
An attending doctor is responsible for patient invitations, medical card creation, and health status tracking.
First, the doctor adds and fills in a patient card or integrates it with an EMR system. Next, they list appropriate nutrition products. For quick food selection, physicians can set filters in accordance with a food category and the required amount of energy and nutrients.
Diet Plan and Goal Setting
When the patient card is ready, the doctor creates a nutrition plan, chooses indicators for tracking, and sets the desired health goals. After that, they send the patient an invitation (login and password). The final step is the control of the patients’ nutrition and health indicators by monitoring their responses and the recorded data analysis.
Nutrition Patterns Recommendation
With every new diet plan that is created, the app suggests to the doctor 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 their nutrition diary.
When it is time to eat, the patient selects food items from the list - they must keep with diet limits set by the doctor. If they make a mistake (for example, choose an incorrect portion size), the app displays a warning notification. People can also write notes about their general wellbeing and any health changes. When all data is entered, the patient must click the “Save” button.
At determined time points, patients have to track and key in their health conditions as required by their doctor. After the measurement, the patient inputs the necessary indicator values into the app and clicks the “Save” button. They can also edit all the entered information if there are any errors.
The system includes two types of instant messages - regular and alarm. Regular notifications are reminders for scheduled food intake, or the need to measure health indicators. Alarm messages inform an attending doctor about critical divergences of health indicators, or deterioration of a patients’ health. They also encourage patients to see their 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 nutritional behaviour and health status. The doctor can compare the 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 changes in health indicators.
For most hospitals, it is necessary to keep a constant connection with 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 or need advice.
There is a variety of harmful consequences caused by poor or 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 motivator for modern people to change their health behaviour is their smartphones. Most health consumers are encouraged to keep a proper diet with the help of nutrition applications. In addition, such software delivers patient health data easily and in a comprehensive manner.
The nutrition analysis software is a program encouraging patients to achieve a better health status, which can contribute to their faster recuperation. As such, 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 pieces of research and medical reports have confirmed that people are ready to modify their diet habits with the help of nutrition apps. The mHealth market is growing year by year, and people are becoming more engaged in leading a healthy lifestyle thanks to tech solutions. This fact opens up great potential for the healthcare industry to enhance people’s quality of life, starting with the improvement of their nutrition behaviour.