This is the first post in what will be a series of articles, interviews, essays, and how-to-guides on how dietitians can leverage technology in their care. We believe that no matter where and how RDs practice, whether it be in a clinical, outpatient, community, or private practice setting, technology can be an important asset.
The dietetic industry is rapidly evolving, and technology available to RDs is undoubtedly accelerating the pace of this change. It seems like every day we learn about a new iPhone app, smart tool, software platform, or website that offers consumers and their healthcare professionals a way to track workouts, log food, or read something new about nutrition. Really, it’s not too surprising that technology is rapidly making its way to the dietetic and nutrition practice, given the prevalence of chronic disease, the importance of nutrition on overall health, and policy-changes enabled through the Affordable Care Act. Can you believe there are already over 200,000 tools available on the market today?
Technology available to dietitians goes far beyond using social media as a marketing vehicle for your practice or brand, and can be much more powerful than leveraging a couple of apps to have patients electronically record food journals (though we are a fan of that too 🙂 ). Technology can fundamentally re-shape the way that dietitians connect with their patients, find new patients, and contribute to positive care outcomes.
So, how is nutritional care changing as a result of technology? Well, here are a few examples:
- In addition to recommending standard kitchen tools, dietitians can offer patients tools like smart scales and smart plates, from which information can be automatically uploaded to an electronic portal. This improves adherence and compliance to meal plans, and also makes it easier than ever to measure progress with time.
- Dietitians in community settings can recommend free electronic resources (apps, websites, and more) with credible educational materials to support a healthy lifestyle.
- Corporate wellness dietitians can leverage “gamification apps” to create healthy competitions in workplace settings to encourage healthy living
- Nutrition providers can connect with their patients in between appointments through electronic food journals, messaging apps, and patient-provider portals. This means that there’s a continuity of care in between appointments, patients build closer relationships with their nutrition providers, and patients are more likely to stick with recommendations and guidelines.
- Nutrition providers in private practice can leverage EHR and practice management software to reduce the time they spend on back-office tasks like scheduling, billing and charting, which means they can spend more time seeing patients.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, and there are dozens of other ways technology is changing the way dietitians can practice. When used properly, technology can make patient care more efficient AND effective. We encourage you to think about the ways you can incorporate technology into your care, whether you’ve been a dietitian for 30 years or 30 days.
If you have any questions about the types of technology available to dietitians, or could use some advice on how to integrate technology into your care, please do not hesitate to reach out and ask. We always love hearing from you!