Telemedicine complements traditional doctor visits
How telemedicine helped a nutritionist understand her clients’ challenges better than an office visit.
Seventy-five per cent of my time coaching my nutritional clients is actually spent discussing non-food concepts.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, I spent a lot of time face-to-face in my traditional office, discussing traditional strategies of getting people healthier, while the bubble around their traditional lives of family, friends and finances was working against their becoming healthier.
When Covid-19 hit, I had to figure out how “virtual” coaching or telemedicine would benefit my clients, as they navigated their way through what any nutritionist would deem an explosive minefield!
So much of what I do relies on me seeing, touching, explaining lifestyle changes in person — or so I thought.
What I learnt is that if I am adaptable, and I can show a pathway through change — my clients can, too. Part of what makes us successful, in any walk of life, is our ability to adapt.
How do you adapt differently with telemedicine?
Here are my top tips when interacting for wellness.
• Know what you want from your virtual visit. When it comes to nutrition, I want clients to explain what impacted their health decisions the previous week, and how we can take steps to improve these for the upcoming week.
What was successful? What was a challenge
What can you repeat? What do you eliminate?
This does not just apply to nutrition — the same style of conversation could apply when you discuss your worsening allergies with your doctor — know what you want the physician to help you with.
Virtual visits somehow made the conversations more relaxed, allowed my clients to open up about some truths that they may not have shared in my more sterile traditional office environment.
Frankly, it was liberating and some of the most honest conversations we experienced on some journeys to health.
• Figure out who or what is impacting your health. Virtual allows me to see inside your personal space.
This means I saw people’s kitchens, how their children are such a huge impact on their choices, how their sense of time became altered, when work and home became inseparable.
We had to focus on redefining their concept of time.
They heard me tell them to use their computer clock to remind them to drink water, to stretch, to walk while they talk on their phone to their clients.
I would sometimes just ask “what day is it today” and if they could not answer right away — we laughed and I explained the need to “define your time” so that work and home and weekends and work (again) do not all flow in to each other.
• Use virtual to show or explain things you might not be able to in a traditional office visit. When a nutritionist gets to see inside somebody’s fridge it’s the holy grail of understanding: like a doctor being able to see with X-ray vision.
It was enlightening for both the patient and for me as a nutritionist.
I write this for two reasons. To explain that my fear of virtual or telemedicine is gone.
I see a clear role where I can partner it with my traditional office consults for nutrition and wellness.
One is not better than the other — they absolutely complement each other.
I also write it to encourage patients to have a plan for their virtual visit, just like when you have your office visit. Ask questions, make sure you understand your next step, share the “whys and what’s” that impact your health. Relax and open up.
It’s almost the perfect mix for my nutritional practice of having “house calls and office visits” blended together.
• Myra Dill is a Nutritionist and Behavioural Change Specialist at eFit/PFRWELLNESS
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