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Telemedicine, Meet Telenutrition

In 2015 alone $3.2 trillion was spent on healthcare. That’s 17.8% of the United State’s GDP. Pinpointing chronic disease treatment costs as the driver behind this has led healthcare policies and insurance companies to jump on the bandwagon of preventative and value-based care. That’s one check mark for the industry.

However, delays in seeking care make preventative care and disease risk management an impossible challenge. American Well’s 2017 Consumer Survey explains why 67% of consumers delayed seeking care for a health issue: it’s too expensive, it takes too long, it’s considered unnecessary, and it too inconvenient. Understandable, right?

Enter “telenutrition”, a natural extension of virtual medicine and a solution to this problem. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics defines “telenutrition” as the “interactive use, by an RDN, of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to implement the Nutrition Care Process with patients or clients at a remote location.” It addresses delays in care by offering convenient, flexible, and quality nutritional care built to support longitudinal relationships, enhanced reach, and simplified cost-structures.

Why focus on nutrition?

Diet is linked to the onset of chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes — 3 of the top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. Today, around 50% of American adults are diagnosed with a preventable chronic disease. Two-thirds of adults are either overweight or obese. The cost of diabetes alone stands at over $200 billion per year. You get the gist. America is facing a chronic disease crisis.

But, every cloud has a silver lining. According to the WHO and the CDC, eliminating risk factors — including poor nutrition — can prevent over 40% of cancer, and 80% of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes cases. Now that’s a big deal.

Why telenutrition?

Over 65% of America is struggling with diet-related chronic conditions. Yet, less than 5% of these individuals have access to nutritional care. Talk about an imbalance in supply and demand. Providing virtual vehicles to ensure access to quality nutritional care is telenutrition’s — and Healthie’s — mission, pride, and joy. The benefits of this platform are manifold:

  • It creates value through quality and flexible care
  • It’s convenient
  • It helps build important longitudinal, behavioral relationships
  • It crosses barriers to care and enhances reach to services
  • It reduces the cost structure

Now what?

Telemedicine’s assets are clear, e.g. immediate care/health advice, 24/7 communication channels, video visits between providers and patients, simplified cost structures, and increased accessibility. By bringing dietitians and nutritionists into the picture, digital health will better support the transition towards preventative care. Today’s changing disease and digital landscapes mark an opportune time for telenutrition to help people get healthie.

Interested in learning more? Check out the full version of this article on Medium.

 

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