Telehealth transforming the nutrition counseling industry

Telehealth transforming the nutrition counseling industry

The dietetics and nutrition counseling industry is undergoing a shift with the proliferation of telehealth services available to providers and their clients.

Nutritional counseling is one of the most obvious areas of healthcare that can be made more efficient and convenient by using video conferencing for follow-up visits and periodic check ins.

Patients can receive nutritional counseling for a wide variety of situations, some requiring medically prescribed care and some elective.  In all scenarios, PHI (protected health information) will be shared so it’s important that communication is done on a HIPAA compliant platform.

The convenience that telehealth affords both the professional and the client is obvious.  Clients can maintain a schedule of care even when vacations, business trips and a hectic life would otherwise cause cancellations.  Professionals can maintain their schedules from anywhere in the world, maintain evening “office hours” from home, or fill gaps in their workday with a video appointment.

What should I charge for telehealth visits? 

One question that comes up often for nutritionists considering telehealth is: “How much should I charge for video appointments?” There doesn’t seem to be a standard yet.

Some professionals choose to charge slightly more for telehealth visits, due to the convenience for clients.  Some set their fee slightly lower for telehealth visits during this “early adoption” phase, to encourage clients to try this new service.  Others have taken a more creative approach and have included telehealth visits as part of a bundled service.  For example, one RDN sells her services in a package of 4 one-hour office visits, 1 guided visit to the grocery store, and 4 fifteen-minute video sessions.

Good for business!

The addition of telehealth services to a practice can also change the way they advertise and attain new clients.  For clients looking for convenience, and perhaps a further degree of anonymity or comfort, the ability to connect via video is a huge selling point.  Google the term “online nutritionist” to see the number of providers advertising themselves this way.  It might also open up a new referral stream.  One RD received several physician referrals of non-ambulatory patients who required care but were unable to make it to office visits.  Her telehealth service offered them vital care and was good for her business as well!

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