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Nutrition Informatics Blog



Collaboration - For the Best Results

As a consultant, people often think my job is to breeze in, examine the situation and goals and tell them what to do.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  My take on being a good consultant is that you do your homework, become an “expert” on the topic at hand, network and gather information on from others, and present this back to the client, so that an informed decision can be made together.  Yes, it takes longer, requires considerable work but is always worth it in the end.  The advantage is that most people are more satisfied with decisions made by knowing as much as they can and matching options to their personal life. The downside is sometimes the client does not make the decision that I think they should.  The purpose, however, is that the goals of the client are met—and I usually have to remind myself of this.

So what is the link to informatics—and in particular, nutrition informatics?  This is exactly the patient-centered care our country is moving to.  Our culture of “following directions” from health care providers just doesn’t work anymore.  Patients (consumers, individuals—I use the terms interchangeably) need to work with their providers to make informed decisions (based upon the right information being at the right place at the right time) that meet their own personal objectives.  Dietitians play the role of presenting the scientific evidence at hand which supports decisions the patient will make. We do the homework necessary to make expert recommendations on choices for the patient. Technology can help us do this if we use it creatively to support patient behavioral decisions—in a collaborative fashion.

Every now and then, I challenge myself on why I have worked as an independent consultant for 11 years—because it forces me to do my homework, and work in a collaborative way for the best results. This is the climate of health care, in particular driven by HITECH: transparent collaboration to achieve the best results, based upon input from every sector that might help. What prompted me for this topic? One of my daughters has a sign that mysteriously appeared on the wall outside her room one day.  It reads:

Believe in the best

think your best

act your best

do your best

and never ever

settle for less

than your best

Luckily many of us agree our best in achieved through shared, collective thinking—collaboration for the best. 

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