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Nutrition Informatics Blog



Promoting Involvement in Nutrition and Personal Health Care Decision Making

Promoting Involvement in Nutrition and

Personal Health Care Decision Making

Peggy Turner, MS, RD/LD

When you utter the phrase “HITECH,” most people immediately think about efforts to adopt electronic health records and protect health information. Although those are important aspects of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, not many people realize that the act has some important advantages for patients and consumers as well. If you are thinking that HITECH only applies to doctors and hospitals, it is time to think again.

Another exciting but yet often over looked aspect of HITECH is something called “patient engagement” or “consumer engagement.” The act requires that individuals receiving HITECH incentives or participating in “meaningful use” also must engage in providing patients with summaries of their clinical visits. The exciting part is that patients can request this information electronically and keep this information in their very own personal health record (PHR).

Now, more than ever, is an exciting time for registered dietitians (RDs) and diet technicians, registered (DTRs) to seize the opportunity to “get engaged themselves” and find new and exciting ways to help all individuals take ownership of their health care information and care. If you are going to the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) this year, a great place to start is by attending one of the first sessions on Sunday morning entitled  Smart Phones and Smart Patients: The New Rules of Engagement.

Erin Poetter, who is a consumer e-health specialist with the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology, will share the many tools and initiatives that ONC has available to help individuals use health information technology and become more involved in personal health care decision making. Sunnie Southern, MS, RD, LD, will discuss  the key strategies for successful engagement of nutrition-focused consumer engagement. Based on her first-hand experience, she will offer tips and suggestions that attendees are sure to find beneficial. You are bound to walk away motivated and excited about the many ways you can help promote consumer engagement.

But I bet many of you already are involved in engaging patients, clients, and consumers to improve their nutrition and lead healthier lives. Please feel free to share the exciting things you have done already to help individuals “engage” and take ownership of their information.


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