JMIR medical informatics 2018 01 196(1) e4 doi 10.2196/medinform.7601
Malnutrition is a condition most commonly arising from the inadequate consumption of nutrients necessary to maintain physiological health and is associated with the development of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and sarcopenia. Malnutrition occurring in the hospital setting is caused by insufficient monitoring, identification, and assessment efforts. Furthermore, the ability of health care workers to identify and recognize malnourished patients is suboptimal. Therefore, interventions focusing on the identification and treatment of malnutrition are valuable, as they reduce the risks and rates of malnutrition within hospitals. Technology may be a particularly useful ally in identifying malnutrition due to scalability, timeliness, and effectiveness. In an effort to explore the issue, this scoping review synthesized the availability of technological tools to detect and identify hospital malnutrition.
Our objective was to conduct a scoping review of the different forms of technology used in addressing malnutrition among adults admitted to hospital to (1) identify the extent of the published literature on this topic, (2) describe key findings, and (3) identify outcomes.
We designed and implemented a search strategy in 3 databases (PubMed, Scopus, and CINAHL). We completed a descriptive numerical summary and analyzed study characteristics. One reviewer independently extracted data from the databases.
We retrieved and reviewed a total of 21 articles. We categorized articles by the computerized tool or app type: malnutrition assessment (n=15), food intake monitoring (n=5), or both (n=1). Within those categories, we subcategorized the different technologies as either hardware (n=4), software (n=13), or both (n=4). An additional subcategory under software was cloud-based apps (n=1). Malnutrition in the acute hospital setting was largely an unrecognized problem, owing to insufficient monitoring, identification, and initial assessments of identifying both patients who are already malnourished and those who are at risk of malnourishment. Studies went on to examine the effectiveness of health care workers (nurses and doctors) with a knowledge base focused on clinical care and their ability to accurately and consistently identify malnourished geriatric patients within that setting.
Most articles reported effectiveness in accurately increasing malnutrition detection and awareness. Computerized tools and apps may also help reduce health care workers’ workload and time spent assessing patients for malnutrition. Hospitals may also benefit from implementing malnutrition technology through observing decreased length of stay, along with decreased foregone costs related to missing malnutrition diagnoses. It is beneficial to study the impact of these technologies to examine possible areas of improvement. A future systematic review would further contribute to the evidence and effectiveness of the use of technologies in assessing and monitoring hospital malnutrition.