• Bari Stricoff, MSc, RDN

What is a Digital Dietitian? Why I Chose to Embrace Telehealth

As a Dietitian, the career possibilities are endless – clinical, community, food service, public health, writer, educator, etc. And for some, it may take years to figure out what you want to do with your credentials. However, for me, I’ve always wanted to work in private practice and help people meet their goals, gain confidence, make peace with food, and empower them to live their healthiest lives (and, for the record, my interpretation of the word “healthy” is synonymous with “balanced”).

Access a Digital Dietitian from your phone or tablet in the comfort of your own home

So, when the time came to set up my own practice, I was absolutely petrified. How was I supposed to pay rent and bills for an office space, pay my own rent and bills, pay back student loans and still have money to buy avocados?

The idea of working from home was, at first, solely because I wouldn’t have as many outgoings. But, after tons of research into the best practices, it became evidently clear that the future of healthcare was about to shift in my favor. You no longer have to drive to your GP and sit in the waiting room for an hour, only to have a 15-20-minute consultation with the doctor ending in a prescription for a z-pack. Now, I can see a doctor through video chat and have my prescriptions waiting for me at my local pharmacy via telemedicine!

Telemedicine is a sector of the larger field of Telehealth, defined as health information services, health care education, and health care services in a broad sense, delivered via technology to patients in a remote location. Widely used in the fields of primary care, psychiatry and dermatology, I was ready to embrace the field of Telenutrition!

So, to get ahead of the curve and attempt to predict the way nutrition private practices will operate in the future, I chose to go 100% digital. This means I work via a HIPPA-compliant Telehealth platform, where my sessions take place via a secure video-chat. Through this portal, my clients can book a session, have an appointment, check their patient education folder, photo journal their foods (if they want), track desired metrics, and engage in text-like messaging for ongoing support – all from the comfort of their own home. No time spent driving, no time spent waiting, and no need to change out of your pyjamas (seriously, I don’t mind). Whether logged in from your desktop or through the app on a mobile device, Telenutrition makes working with a Dietitian even more convenient! In fact, only 350K people were utilizing Telehealth in 2013. Fast forward to 2018, and over 7 million individuals in the United States were using Telehealth!

When it comes to making lasting changes to your diet, ongoing support is key. I believe that Telenutrition has enabled me to build a stronger rapport with my clients, increase accountability and offer support beyond the consultations! Additionally, I am very aware that nutrition and psychology go hand in hand, as evident through many of my clients suffering with discorded eating habits. Thus, offering services to my clients in the comfort of their own home helps individuals feel more relaxed, which results in a more honest conversation, leading to an increase in positive outcomes.

As a Digital Dietitian, my services are also very flexible, as I can make my own hours and accommodate for my clients. Some of my clients even choose to have their appointments from the IPhones on their lunch breaks! With increased flexibility and decreased outgoing costs on my end, I can offer my services at an affordable rate. And while I do not accept private medical insurance, I can provide a “Superbill”, which is submitted to your provider for potential reimbursement – which many of my clients have been successful with!

So, in the era where everything is accessible at one’s fingertips, why not have your Dietitian there too? Make positive lifestyle changes as convenient as possible, by embracing Telehealth and working with a Digital Dietitian!

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