Tips for Telehealth Virtual Nutritionist Sessions

Learn how to prepare for telehealth nutrition counseling with clients. Discover tips for having virtual sessions for your wellness practice.

If you’re on top of the latest trends in healthcare technology, you’re likely familiar with the growth and efficacy of virtual consultations or telehealth services.

Not only is the option of virtual video consultations an excellent addition to include within your business model, it allows you to provide better care overall.

As a leader in the telehealth industry, we’re excited to answer your common questions and share the best tips to offer effective telehealth virtual consultations.

Why Should You Provide Virtual Nutrition Sessions?

While in-person sessions may be necessary, depending on your clients needs and billing model (some insurance companies require at least one in-person session), effective telehealth services can benefit your business and your clients for a multitude of reasons, including:

  • Lower costs
  • More flexibility
  • Fewer no-shows
  • Greater accessibility to care
  • More frequent client interactions
  • Shorter commutes
  • Use of the latest technology trends
  • And more!

What if I don’t want to give up in-person sessions?

You certainly don’t have to give up in-person sessions. In fact, in certain cases, it may be necessary to see clients face-to-face.

You can choose to offer a mix of in-person and virtual sessions. For example, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, you offer in person sessions, and Tuesdays and Thursdays offer virtual consultations. Blocking your time this way will help organize your workflow.

What Makes Telehealth Nutrition Counseling Efficient?

Clients will love the convenience of virtual care. It’s more accessible for those who are unable to commit because of commute time, or for those who don’t live in a reasonable distance for specialized care.

“Technology prevents busy working individuals from taking the time to drive to and from an appointment, and the dietitian has the risk of clients canceling appointments because of this. Another cost effective benefit is potentially avoid to rent an office space to rent. All of this enables for time for more clients- which improves client/patient outcomes,”

says Healthie community member Cassandra Golden MS, RD, LDN private practice, Nutrition Nibbles.

To ensure you’re offering the best possible virtual care, we’ve gathered 12 tips and tricks for offering the best telehealth services, including tips from the Healthie Community!

12 Tips for Telehealth Nutrition Counseling

1. Hold A Dry Run

Ensure that all is working well before your first telehealth client by holding a dry run. Registered Dietitian and owner of Chelsey Amer Nutrition, Chelsey Amer, MS, RDN, CDN, says “You’ll enter your first session feeling more confident if you do a test run-through with a close family member or friend. A dry run helps you better understand the flow of your session, where to navigate, and how your technology works best.”

We suggest practicing your entire session. Be sure you know how to:

  • Log on
  • Explain to your client how to log on for your session
  • Screen share (if needed)
  • Take notes while you chat
  • Bill for your session

2. Test Your Camera and Microphone

In your run-through, be sure to test your camera and microphone. Some browsers require that you allow access, so be sure to check your settings.

Give yourself a few minutes before each session to test your video chat camera and microphone. Clients can test theirs as well, through Healthie.

3. Confirm Payment With Insurance Companies

If you accept insurance, always confirm before your appointments that telehealth services are covered with your in-network insurance companies to avoid a huge hassle.

Some companies require an initial in-person session before covering virtual follow ups.

4. Provide Accessibility to Rural Areas

Providing virtual care means you can market to areas that may be unrealistic for in-person care.

“Progressions in technology have made it more convenient for dietitian’s to serve clients exactly where they are, in real-time. The benefits include convenience as well as provide accessibility to rural areas for example which have limited access to a dietitian,” says Cassandra Golden MS, RD, LDN,  owner of Nutrition Nibbles.

Do you live in a city? Market your services to the rural or suburban areas a few hours away that may not directly seek out your services strictly due to inaccessibility. You can also work with clients anywhere in the country, as long as you have the proper state licensure for the state where your client is located.

5. Lead Virtual Group Sessions

Do you want to reach a broader audience without the hassle of renting space and organizing large events? Easily do so by providing group counseling sessions or support groups with telehealth.

Healthie community member Gisela Bouvier, MBA, RDN, LDN, owner of Mindfully Intuitive Nutrition, uses telehealth to lead Virtual Small Group Counseling, as well as host Virtual Workshops, focusing on mindful and intuitive eating.”

“Through the platform, I am able to reach the masses with my message and nutrition approach,” shares Gisela.

6. Keep Professionalism In Mind

Virtual care allows you to work from home, but it’s important to maintain your professionality. As tempting as it may be to stay in your pajamas, treat the sessions as if you were in-person by wearing clean, neat clothing.

Also, minimize distractions in the background in your clients’ view. This isn’t meant to dampen your personal style, but rather to ensure that your environment is professional, just as it would be for an in-person session. Encourage clients to find a comfortable space for themselves, too.

7. Use A Professional Platform

A professional platform, like Healthie, will not only improve your clients experience, it also ensures that you are HIPAA-compliant. Your clients’ security and privacy are important, as are the legal requirements of your practice.

8. Let Your Clients Finish Their Thoughts

Keep in mind that it may be easier to cut off your clients when video conferencing because of delayed internet connections. Don’t cut off your clients, and do your best to let your clients finish their thoughts before interjecting.

9. Pay Attention To Subtle Cues

Video conferencing allows you to pick up on body language in ways that phone sessions do not. Therefore, maintain eye contact, focus on your session, stay involved, and listen and react appropriately. Absorb the nonverbal cues your clients are sharing.

10. Utilize Screen Share Functionality

To make your sessions feel more hands-on, share your screen during your virtual consultations to review activities such as:

You can seamlessly screen share through Healthie, to increase interaction and ensure you’re both on the same page!

11. Offer Brief, Between-Session, Video Consultations

The option of virtual connection allows for more frequent check-ins, which can foster deeper trust and accountability.

With brief video check-ins, you hold shorter sessions that can fit-in whenever necessary. These follow ups are easier to squeeze in, compared to in-person visits, so they can be held more frequently. For example, a client may only drive 30 minutes to see you in-person once a month, but with video check-ins you can increase the quantity of follow ups (and therefore improve your quality of care).

“Thank goodness for video and phone consults,” says Healthie community member Monica Auslander, MS, RD, LDN and owner of Essence Nutrition. “People run late and cancel all the time because of “traffic” or some other minor excuse. There’s NO excuse not to hire a dietitian if you can sneak in a 30 minute call on your lunch break, or on your way home from work, right?”

With the additional option of shorter, virtual consultations, you’re able to connect with a wider base of clients that might otherwise not be able to commit to your services.

12. Be Authentic

If the idea of appearing on a screen intimidates you, remember that the way you present yourself is exactly the same as you would in person.

Stage fright is natural, and we assure you it will pass. You’ll be loving telehealth in no time!

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