The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services launched their website for the HITECH Electronic Health Records Incentive Program. As a dietitian (who is not considered an “eligible provider” for this incentive program), you may ask: what does that have to do with nutrition? At first gloss, this is an understandable response. Upon closer examination, consider the following:
Dietitians working with small hospitals who are eligible for incentives (meaning they are committing to EHR adoption) should inquire about the EHR Implementation Team, ask to participate, and work to assure inclusion of nutrition in the EHR for that facility. The sooner dietitians get involved in this process, the more likely they will be able to negotiate the best nutrition related functionality in the EHR. The alternative is that nutrition is excluded (meaning dietitians cannot perform their expected work), someone else adds, what they “think is needed for nutrition” or nutrition content is added at the end (which drives costs, timeline for implementation and professional angst out the roof!)
Dietitians who work independently with small group physician practices need to inquire about participation in the incentive program and offer assistance in assuring that a nutrition component is included. Yes, a time commitment, but one which will establish collaboration and a reminder to include the dietitian in referrals and patient care.
The movement to Electronic Health Records creates a perfect time to implement the Nutrition Care Process and Model and the International Dietetic and Nutrition Terminology. This allows for a standard process to be established so that health nutrition data can be exchanged across all providers.
States are responsible for their own management of the Medicaid incentives, so each state will have a different process for support.
Utilize ADA’s resources related to EHR Adoption and Nutrition Inclusion:
EHR Tool Kit
“Electronic Medical Records and Personal Health Records: A Call for the Creation and Inclusion of a Nutrition Database”
International Dietetics and Nutrition Terminology
Nutrition Care Process and Model
I would love to hear what more dietitians are doing in this area!