Integrating mobile technology with routine dietetic practice: the case of myPace for weight management.
The field of Mobile health (mHealth), which includes mobile phone applications (apps), is growing rapidly and has the potential to transform healthcare by increasing its quality and efficiency. The present paper focuses particularly on mobile technology for body weight management, including mobile phone apps for weight loss and the available evidence on their effectiveness. Translation of behaviour change theory into weight management strategies, including integration in mobile technology is also discussed. Moreover, the paper presents and discusses the myPace platform as a case in point. There is little clinical evidence on the effectiveness of currently available mobile phone apps in enabling behaviour change and improving health-related outcomes, including sustained body weight loss. Moreover, it is unclear to what extent these apps have been developed in collaboration with health professionals, such as dietitians, and the extent to which apps draw on and operationalise behaviour change techniques has not been explored. Furthermore, presently weight management apps are not built for use as part of dietetic practice, or indeed healthcare more widely, where face-to-face engagement is fundamental for instituting the building blocks for sustained lifestyle change. myPace is an innovative mobile technology for weight management meant to be embedded into and to enhance dietetic practice. Developed out of systematic, iterative stages of engagement with dietitians and consumers, it is uniquely designed to complement and support the trusted health practitioner-patient relationship. Future mHealth technology would benefit if engagement with health professionals and/or targeted patient groups, and behaviour change theory stood as the basis for technology development. Particularly, integrating technology into routine health care practice, rather than replacing one with the other, could be the way forward.
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