Look around any hospital, grocery store or school and it is obvious how fully integrated technology is in our personal and work lives. With so much of our day spent interacting with phones, computers and tablets, it is more important than ever that the systems we use be efficient and helpful.
As a dietitian at a nutrition software company, it’s my job to ensure the development team understands the business needs of our customers. The user experience — what users are thinking, feeling and doing while using a product — is always on my mind. Software focused on the user experience is not created in isolation; it is a constant feedback loop among developers, business experts and users.
If you use a nutrition or health application in your practice, your perspective has value and could help shape nutrition technologies of the future. To create software for food and nutrition professionals, a deep understanding is required of the unique challenges they face. One of the ways we foster this understanding is through focus groups.
A focus group is a gathering of product users who help guide the development process. It’s advantageous to have a broad cross-section of users with different perspectives and experiences. Typically, a moderator leads a discussion with the goal of understanding the user experience, as well as the needs and workflow of typical users. Participants of the group build on each other’s ideas, prioritize the importance of new features and collectively drive innovation forward.
Dietitians are the experts on food and nutrition. Engaging in the design and implementation of nutrition informatics systems will help create future technology that enhances our practice. Technology can increase efficiency, help keep patients and clients safe and promote health and nutrition.
Focus groups are one way to get involved by adding your voice to the development of new technologies — but there are many other ways. Engage with health and nutrition IT vendors, investigate user communities for the applications you use and follow along with the Academy’s efforts to include nutrition in IT standards. Tomorrow’s nutrition technologies will only improve through the dedicated expertise of food and nutrition experts like you.