Telehealth: How to Adjust to a New Normal

By Courtney Lee MS, RDN, CLT, CFCS

Registered dietitians are not immune to the ever-changing landscape of healthcare. The need for telehealth during the era of COVID-19 is impacting registered dietitians across job sites and work environments.

Acute care dietitians may be limited to making phone calls to patient rooms for nutrition assessments for patients on certain units, or hospital wide. Long-term care dietitians may participate in video conferencing for care plan meetings instead of meeting face-to-face with the interdisciplinary care team, patient, and family.

Dialysis dietitians may be limited on how long they can be in the dialysis facility and rely on phone calls to check on patients instead of just walking by and saying “hello.” Outpatient dietitians may be providing videoconference meetings, even if they are also offering in-person appointments.

Dietitians across the healthcare field have to call patients’ families who cannot be with their loved ones during care. Many dietitians are still working from home, at least part-time.

Quickly adapting to using telehealth is more challenging for some than others. Here are some steps you can take to embrace telehealth as a new, normal part of your life.

  • Focus on the positives. Think: reduced exposure for vulnerable people, less care time, or potential for more productivity.
  • Treat each call like an in-person conversation. Give every family or patient phone call the same attention you would if you were speaking face-to-face.
  • Set up a designated space for videoconferencing. Use a clean, neutral background behind you in a private, quiet area.
  • Remember HIPAA laws still apply. Be sure no one can hear you, if they aren’t supposed to.
  • If working from home—get dressed! Dress for work each morning, at least down to your house shoes.
  • Contact your clients (patients or families) as much as you normally would—but in a new way! Don’t let the need for telehealth prevent you from communicating as frequently as you should.
  • Give yourself buffer time for technical difficulty. We all have tech problems now and again.

Regardless of your practice area and what you’re work place is doing now, telehealth in some capacity will likely continue as part of our new normal in healthcare. This could be out of convenience to people who have difficulty accessing care or due to the cost and energy invested into setting up telehealth practices. Go ahead and shift your mindset from thinking of telehealth as a temporary fix to a permanent solution. In some capacity, telehealth is here to stay. So, embrace it!

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Courtney Lee, MS, RDN, CDN, CLT, CFCS consults locally with Dietitians On Demand and also has a virtual private practice, Kitchen Nutrition, LLC. Courtney enjoys equipping dietitians and dietetic interns with the tools they need for professional success so they don’t have to learn the hard way. Courtney enjoys baking, running, and hosting friends and family in her home.
Find her on Instagram @yourkitchennutrition.

Dietitians On Demand is a nationwide staffing and recruiting company for registered dietitians, specializing in short-term, temporary and permanent-hire positions in acute care, long term care and food service positions. We’re dedicated to dietitians and helping them enhance their practice and excel in the workplace. Check out our job openingsrequest your coverage, or visit our store today!

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