Background: Integrating digital dietary assessment within dietetic care could save time and reduce costs, at the same time as increasing patient engagement. The present study explores the feasibility of implementing a web-based dietary assessment tool, myfood24, into routine healthcare.
Methods: This mixed methods feasibility study recruited dietitians and patients from a National Health Service (NHS) hospital outpatient setting. Patients completed and shared three online 24-h dietary recalls in advance, which were used as a dietary assessment by dietitians. Recruitment data were collected and questionnaires on technology, usability, and acceptability were completed. Patient interviews and focus groups with dietitians were conducted.
Results: Eleven dietitians working in allergy, bariatrics, diabetes, oncology, general, renal, infectious diseases, and coeliac services took part with 39 patients. Recruitment rates were highest in bariatrics and lowest in renal and oncology.
Compared to other studies, completion rates were good, with 29 (74.4%) completing three recalls despite lower technology readiness and software usability scores than in similar studies. Illness and difficulty with technology were reasons for non-completion. Opportunity to receive nutritional feedback from the tool and share this with a dietitian motivated patients to complete the record accurately. Consultation times were shortened in approximately one-third of appointments and a higher proportion of time was spent on nutritional education compared to usual practice. However, mean preparation time increased by 13 min per appointment because dietitians found nutritional analysis reports difficult to interpret.
Conclusions: It is feasible to introduce a digital dietary assessment tool into NHS dietetic practice. However, further development is needed to ensure that the tool is suitable for healthcare.