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Nutrition Technology: an Overview for Dietitians

In less than a decade, healthcare has transitioned from primarily pen and paper, to an efficient digitized system. With advances in technology and government initiatives, a new era of healthcare has been usher in. At the forefront of this transformation, is nutrition technology. More and more, we’re seeing dietitians utilize the latest tools, apps, tech and platforms to help grow successful nutrition private practices. 

In this article, we share how to leverage the latest nutrition technology, including telehealth, to support and grow your nutrition business.

How government policies shaped the adoption of technology in healthcare

As part of healthcare reform, several government initiatives helped to identify digitized medical records as an efficient, and beneficial way to collect and store client information. Most notably, in 2004, an executive order was issued to digitize medical records. In 2009, congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)  and HITECH Act that finally infused $26B towards establishing electronic health records (EHRs) across the United States. Rapid global adoption of personal technology like smartphones, coupled with government policies, ushered in the adoption of EHRs. Beyond clinical settings, the availability of affordable, cloud-based EHR platforms has allowed dietitians to utilize this technology in private practice. 

Benefits of using digital health in nutritional care

More than the convenience of using technology in nutritional care, digital health has demonstrated benefits for both nutrition providers and clients. These benefits are redefining how clients receive nutritional care and the quality of care they receive. 

  • Lower costs (to clients and providers) 
  • Improved patient care 
  • Ability to easily collect and analyze nutrition data 
  • Mobile access to valuable information 
  • Better patient engagement 
  • Improved communication (between a client’s care team, and with clients) 

Nutrition technology utilized by dietitians today

In early 2016, there were 165,000 health apps available with close to 200 digital health smart devices of interest for nutrition professionals. Health technology innovations have been rapidly spurred by university programs and venture capital support, with these numbers growing each year.

  • Availability of online health information 
  • Smart devices: digital blood pressure cuffs
  • Smart kitchen gadgets: including smart scales, plates and utensils that help clients  gain valuable insights into their nutritional intake 
  • Nutrition apps: can be used as tracking tools anc educational resources 

The rise of telehealth platforms available to dietitians

Telehealth is the general term used to cover “telecommunications and exchange of electronic information” to support long-distance health care. As a broad term, telehealth includes nutritional care. Specifically, telehealth nutrition (telenutrition) is the provision of nutritional care, virtually. Telehealth and telenutrition include communication over the internet, video-conferencing, e-mail or e-fax, and other methods of distance communications for communication of broad-based nutrition information.

 Practice management platforms, like Healthie provide dietitians with the tools they need to run their business, connect with clients and provide telehealth services. By leveraging these latest nutrition technology features via practice management platforms, dietitians can:  

  • Simplify workflow 
  • Improve productivity with billing support and auto scheduling 
  • Better connect with clients through secure messenger and telehealth services 
  • Quickly share documents, recipes and meal plans with clients 
  • See improved client engagement through tools that allow clients to track their food, workouts, metrics and goals 

For a more detailed review of types of technology available to dietitians,  watch the webinar below. Dietitian Catherine Frederico, RD LDN and Healthie CEO, Erica Jain provide a primer on nutrition technology, and how dietitians can incorporate this technology into private practice.

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