Usability of electronic food systems in hospital

Technology to engage hospitalised patients in their nutrition care: a qualitative study of usability and patient perceptions of an electronic foodservice system

Roberts et al., Early View unknown

Background

Active patient involvement in nutrition care may improve dietary intakes in hospital. Our team is developing an innovative programme allowing patients to self-assess and self-monitor their nutrition at the bedside. The present study aimed to assess usability and patient perceptions of an electronic foodservice system (EFS) for participating in nutrition care.

Methods

This qualitative study was conducted in an Australian tertiary hospital. Participants were sampled purposively and included patients who were able to provide informed consent and communicate in English. Patient interviews were conducted at the bedside and consisted of: (i) usability testing of the EFS using ‘Think Aloud’ technique and (ii) questioning using a semi-structured interview guide to understand perceptions of the EFS. Interview data were analysed using inductive content analysis.

Results

Thirty-two patients were interviewed. Their perceptions of using the EFS to participate in nutrition care were expressed in five categories: (i) Familiarity with technology can affect confidence and ability but is not essential to use EFS; (ii) User interface design significantly impacts EFS usability; (iii) Identifying benefits to technology increases its acceptance; (iv) Technology enables participation, which occurs to varying extents; and (v) Degree of participation depends on perceived importance of nutrition.

Conclusions

Patients found the EFS acceptable and acknowledged benefits to its use. Several factors appeared to influence usability, acceptability and willingness to engage with the system, such as user interface design and perceived ease of use, benefits and importance. The present study provides important insights into designing technology-based interventions for engaging inpatients in their nutrition care.

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