Utilizing patient engagement strategies to empower patients to participate in nutritional care can improve their nutritional knowledge, dietary intakes, and other associated health outcomes. Patients are often unaware that the best form of defense against chronic health conditions and even death is proper nutrition and diet. And while patients might eagerly search online for nutritional information and advice to better control their eating habits, it can become difficult to sort through the different recommendations. While integrating nutrition services into healthcare service delivery would require long-term changes, there are things that your health system can do today to improve patients' nutrition.
The first step is to strengthen patients' knowledge through patient nutrition education. When patients are knowledgeable, they can make more informed decisions and take control of their health. March is National Nutrition Month, an annual awareness campaign designed to promote informed food choices, healthy eating, and physical activity habits. This creates the perfect opportunity for your health system to inform and engage patients in making healthier lifestyle choices.
Here are three strategies to improve patient education on nutrition.
Monitor Patients Through Low Tech Solutions
Part of any journey to a healthier lifestyle is staying on track, but health systems don't always know whether patients are sticking to their nutritional plan between appointments. Tracking patients' metrics, reviewing their food journal entries, and seeing which goals they've accomplished all help your health system build a larger and more accurate picture of a patient's progress. One option would be to monitor patients remotely via SMS by asking them to self-report basic information such as blood sugar levels and medication compliance. This can ensure more positive outcomes; plus, customized protocols can enable real-time escalation whenever clinical intervention is needed.
Even more, your health system can create tailored patient outreach to remind them to log their food intake, physical activity, and symptoms. It may look something like this:
Our Communication & Reminders solution can help your health system optimize patient engagement and action with the right blend of content, channel, and cadence. For more information on this nutrition education solution for patients, read our data sheet.>
Promote Mental Health Programs
When trying to improve and engage patients in better nutrition, health systems must take a holistic approach. Some patients may have poor nutrition because of issues with their emotional well-being. For example, some people will eat when they are stressed, not necessarily because they are hungry. In situations like these, health systems need to help patients determine what to do instead of turning to food. By engaging mental health patients, and those who suffer from eating disorders, you can better understand a patient's nutritional journey.
Your health system should promote your health and wellness offerings. During that time, let patients know that you also offer both in-person and online support groups, counseling, and even therapy. Take the additional step and send a message to patients that allows them to quickly schedule their appointment for any of these programs. The text may look something like this:
Our Class & Event Registration solution provides a convenient way for patients to self-register online for classes and events or by phone with live voice registration. For more information on how our Class & Event solution can help you simplify registration management and maximize attendance for virtual and in-person events, read our data sheet.
Offer Diabetic Nutritional Counseling
For health systems, nutrition interventions and patient engagement solutions for healthier eating can be as or more cost-effective than many currently covered medical interventions. One such program is the Medicare Nutritional Counseling or Diabetes Self-Management Training benefit. This program offers nutrition and lifestyle assessment, individual or group nutritional therapy, management of lifestyle factors that affect diabetes, and follow-up visits to check on progress. Unfortunately, few patients take advantage of this program. In fact, of the 15 million Medicare enrollees with diabetes or chronic kidney disease who are eligible, only about 100,000 enroll in the program.
Our Diabetic Nutritional Counseling solution offers a strategic outreach program to encourage Medicare enrollees with diabetes to schedule their free nutrition consultation. Our solution is an ideal alternative for physicians and care teams that may not have the direct relationships with registered dieticians or the time to perform necessary follow-ups to ensure appointments happen. For more information, read our data sheet on our Diabetic Nutritional Counseling solution.
Improving patients’ nutrition starts with patient education—our Health & Wellness Campaigns can help your health system conduct personalized patient outreach, to engage, educate, and improve patient outcomes.