What is telehealth? 

Telehealth is an umbrella term for the application of telecommunications and technology in healthcare. Telehealth includes any digital communication between a client and practitioner. Most commonly, telehealth is the term used to describe providing client care virtually, opposed to in-person.

Why is telehealth becoming increasingly popular? 

Both clients and practitioners recognize, more than ever, that virtual care is an effective and flexible means to receive and provide high quality nutrition and wellness services.

But did you know that telehealth has actually been around for nearly a century? Since the 1920s, organizations like NASA and AT & T have been experimenting with telemedicine. In recent years, telehealth has become so popular because of advancements in technology. The widespread use of apps and smartphones have made integrating telehealth and technology a reality for practitioners and patients.

Telehealth was first used broadly by primary care physicians, dermatologists, radiologists, and psychiatrists, but is now rapidly expanding throughout healthcare to include registered dietitians. 

What are the benefits of telehealth?

  • Flexibility and convenience: work from home or wherever you’d like! Save your clients the time of traveling to and from appointments
  • Savings on time and money: reduce the need for an office, cut down on travel time between office and home, and lessen rent expenses
  • Closer relationships with clients: the beauty of technology is that it makes it easier to connect with clients – in addition to videoconferencing sessions, message with patients, share documents, and more, to build longer-term, effective relationships
  • Increased access to care for clients: clients in remote locations now have the ability to receive quality care, thanks to telehealth! Telehealth even helps treat patients during disaster relief.
  • Expanded educational reach: practitioners can now access more individuals at one time, with webinars and group counseling sessions.

I’m a new nutrition professional, just starting out in private practice. Am I ready to provide telehealth? 

Yes, absolutely! You are actually more ready to provide telehealth services because you can structure and build your practice around the fact that you’d like to provide virtual care. This has incredible implications for the amount of office space you need (if any) and the way you develop your websiteintake forms, billing processes, client packages, and more!

Is telehealth reimbursable by insurance? 

The short answer is, sometimes, and it depends on a few factors:

  • Where do you live? 32 states have passed parity laws, which means that services that are reimbursable in-person are reimbursable through telehealth.
  • What liability insurance do you have? Make sure your personal coverage includes Telehealth, and check out our blog post for an overview of RD insurance liability plans that cover Telehealth
  • Are you using a HIPAA-compliant platform to conduct care? For insurance companies to reimburse your services, you must be using a HIPAA-compliant platform. Unfortunately, Skype is not HIPAA-compliant; that’s where tools like Healthie are awesome – provide care virtually, and get billing processed along the way (plus a lot more too)
  • Are you licensed in the state where care is being received? If your state has licensure, make sure you follow local guidelines.

All in all, the advent of telehealth is a great benefit for nutrition professionals. It means that care can be provided remotely, nutrition providers can build closer relationships with clients, and it makes practices run more efficientlySounds like a triple win!

Telehealth Forum

There are several challenges that come with starting a telehealth practice, including wide variations in the rules, regulations, and practice guidelines surrounding telehealth.

This forum is a place for registered dietitians to seek out and to share resources and practical advice on getting started with telehealth, as well as risk management strategies to ensure better patient care and avoid malpractice litigation or licensing issues. Due to the every changing laws and requirements surrounding telehealth, we’ve created this living forum to provide the most up-to-date information. Subscribers can ask questions and provide responses or resources for the benefit of the forum community.

We’ve organized our Healthie Telehealth Forum into several state-specific forums. If you have a question, make sure to post it within the appropriate state forum.

How to join the forum:

  1. Access the forum, read through the topic threads and comments to help you navigate the telehealth landscape.
  2. Register & subscribe to stay up-to-date on the latest information

Some additional resources to help you get started with offering telehealth services:

Telehealth for Nutrition Professionals

Integrating Telehealth Into Your Practice

The Telehealth FAQ: What You Need to Know

Visit the Effectual Nutrition website for resources, webinars or to consult with dietitian Kristi Coughlin

If you have more questions on how this forum works, want to see your state added to the list or want to get started with providing telehealth services with Healthie, email us at hello@gethealthie.com