mhealthThe British Dietetic Association has launched a new smartphone application, BDA Coaching Suite, powered by Oviva, aiming to support more patients to access dietitians through secure online client consultations and communication.

The BDA, founded in 1936, is the professional association and trade union for dietitians in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is the nation’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals with more than 8500 members.

Using goal setting strategies and behaviour change skills in which dietitians are expert, this new BDA-branded Coaching Suite can be offered to enhance face-to-face meetings if the patient and practitioner agree it’s appropriate for them. The patient snaps photos of all foods and drinks consumed, as well as logging physical activity, and receives regular personal feedback, tips and coaching from the dietitian.

“Having used the Oviva coaching technology with patients for nearly a year now, I have found this way of working with clients and patients increases compliance and patient outcomes by increasing the level of support they receive,” said Registered Dietitian and television personality, Lucy Jones.

“The app makes it easier to fit coaching in around other work, and it can be used effectively with a variety of patient groups, setting goals appropriate to them. As a dietitian, the incorporated data collection angle is also highly beneficial as it allows you to collate objective outcome data, strengthening your case for further commissioning of services”.

The developer is digital health company Oviva, a Swiss and UK-based company that is spearheading the use of new technology in dietetic patient care – the Oviva Client Relationship Management (CRM) technology system. This includes a secure electronic health record for the dietitian to review patient inputs, and a smartphone app tool for the patient.

The system allows the patient to capture data more accurately (food with photos, activity and weight with trackers such as Fitbits and Apple Healthkit), share the information with their dietitian and receive support between face-to-face sessions through a secure text-message channel. Being able to communicate this way effectively increases access and quality of care, and stimulates self-management.

“Technology is becoming increasingly important across all aspects of healthcare services, from patients using video-calling software to speak to their care providers, to electronic health records and risk screening tools in Intensive Care,” said BDA Honorary Chairman Fiona McCullough. “In the Instagram age, wherein photographing your meals is becoming the norm, the tool has a high level of acceptability – especially within groups who traditionally do not access dietetic care.”

The technology allows the dietitian to attend to their patients more closely when appropriate, on their own schedule (asynchronous communication) and remotely from their own home. The 3-year partnership provides a technology license to the BDA for a BDA Coaching Suite, powered by Oviva and will be rolled out from February 2016.