Digital tool reduces the risk of elderly malnutrition

Date: February 21, 2019 

Dietician Online turns data into dietary recommendations for better elderly care.

Swedish nursing homes will be the first to test a new digital platform that aims to close the gap between elderly people at risk of malnutrition and public care providers. Developed with a grant from the EU INCluSilver initiative, Dietician Online will help carers respond more effectively to the nutritional needs of vulnerable older adults.

The two Swedish companies behind Dietician Online – WA Dietistkompetens and Cuviva – pooled their expertise in elderly nutrition and digital healthcare software when they saw a missing link in the chain of communication in Sweden’s elderly care.

It occurs when elderly people are assessed for their nutritional status. Due to an uncoordinated follow-up with poor knowledge sharing, only a small proportion then receive the right nutrition to keep them healthy – even though as many as 60% are at risk of malnutrition.

An unmet need – all over Europe
Before applying for the INCLuSilver grant, Johanna Andersson from WA Dietistkompetens and Fredrik Koffner from Cuviva both attended an INCLuSilver Innovation Guild on e-health. This confirmed that the platform would not only meet an unmet need in Sweden but all over Europe.

“The guild gave us the confidence to start working on Dietician Online, because we could see potential to export the platform to countries outside Sweden,” says Johanna Andersson.

Daily recommendations
Dietician Online is designed to be a simple but effective tool. Accessible via a tablet, the online platform supports day-to-day nutritional assessments of the elderly, including potential malnutrition risks, such as appetite loss and difficulties with chewing and swallowing.

This data and accompanying dietary recommendations are then instantly available to public care providers, equipping them to make the appropriate response.

Vision of a new standard
“The majority of our healthcare processes are today based upon the provider perspective. We believe that, by shifting the perspective and, instead, empowering the individual and home carers with tools, we can improve the quality of nutritional care. The Cuviva platform already provides similar benefits within other areas of health care,” Fredrik Koffner explains.

Although the official kick-off of the Dietician Online project was only in January, the first tests are already planned to run in April and May at nursing homes in two Swedish municipalities. Johanna Andersson looks forward to taking the next steps.

“The vision is to fight malnutrition through a tool that is simple to use and that will become the standard for working with elderly people, making it easier to keep them healthy.”

INCluSilver is an initiative under the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.