Have you started to wonder how Telehealth might play a role in your current Nutrition Services? As we are seeing the emerging influence technology has within various healthcare settings, Telenutrition is one area of Telehealth that is proving to be valuable to both patients and providers.
According to the Center for Connected Health Policy, Telehealth is a collection of means or methods for enhancing healthcare, public health, and health education delivery and support using telecommunications technologies. The purpose of using Telehealth in today’s healthcare includes but is not limited to, health promotion, disease prevention, diagnosis, consultation, and therapy through web-based video-conferencing, email, fax lines, smart phones, and other electronic methods of remote communication. While Telehealth is not a new concept, as physicians and various other clinicians have already been using these electronic methods to connect with their patients, Telenutrition is a newly emerging aspect of Telehealth being implemented in healthcare facilities across the U.S. Per the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Telenutrition involves the interactive use, by a Registered Dietitian, of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to implement the Nutrition Care Process (nutrition assessment, nutrition diagnosis, nutrition intervention/plan of care, and nutrition monitoring and evaluation) with patients or clients at a remote location, within the provisions of their state licensure as applicable.
The most common way Registered Dietitians provide nutrition guidance is through counseling patients, family, and/or staff within a hospital or other clinical setting, as well as one’s own private practice. With Telenutrition, Dietitians are able to provide nutrition counseling to patients from their own home, business, or at a remote healthcare facility. This benefits patients that live in remote areas, have limited means of transportation, travel frequently throughout the week, or patients with needs that require immediate attention. Telenutrition also benefits patients within a healthcare facility that does not have a Dietitian regularly on staff. Many rural health clinics and critical access hospitals are soaking up the advantages of Telenutrition by implementing remote consultations for outpatient nutrition education from a Dietitian, as well as utilizing faxed assessment referrals for high risk patients. Providing real time consultation to both staff and patients, Telenutrition allows Dietitians to complete nutrition assessments on high priority consults and provide diet education to patients within facilities or following discharge in effort to reduce re-hospitalization rates.
While the standards and regulations for Telehealth are still in development, we continue to see Telenutrition to be an expanding trend. The benefits Telenutrition brings for both patients and providers are evident, and brings us one step closer to improving the care we provide to our patients.
- The Center for Connected Health Policy; The National Telehealth Policy Resource Center. What is Telehealth? http://www.cchpca.org/what-is-telehealth.
- Zanteson, L. (April 2014). Virtual Nutrition Counseling. Today’s Dietitian, 16(4), 42. Retrieved from http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/040114p42.shtml
- Quality Management Committee. (April 2014). Definition of Terms. Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. Retrieved from https://www.cdrnet.org/vault/2459/web/files/DefinitionofTerms.pdf