Doctors at Augusta University Health have been using telehealth for COVID-19 screenings for the past few months, but that’s not the only use for this new technology. Registered dietitians at AU Health have been able to keep up with their patients during the pandemic this way as well.
“With a lot of our clinics closing to in-person visits, we were doing phone consultations but we were very interested in getting involved in telehealth as well,” explained Georgia Cancer Center clinical oncology dietitian Rachel Johanek. “We wanted to reach more patients.”
Registered dietitians help patients who have gone through bariatric surgery, transplants and cancer treatments, among other things.
“We are definitely able to use telehealth with follow-up visits,” Johanek said. “Our transplant patients have several follow-up visits during their recovery. They might oftentimes live hours away. Normally, they would be transferred to another dietitian in the area, but now with telehealth, they are able to stay with the dietician they started with during the transplant. The video gives us more interaction than just doing it through the phone.”
Johanek pointed out that the visual element can add a lot to these follow-up appointments.
“You can do a kitchen tour and see what resources they have. We can look over their pantry and their equipment and see where they can improve things.”
This insight into a patient’s home can make it easier to teach them how to read food labels or to visualize how big a serving size might be for various foods.
“This is definitely the wave of the future,” Johanek said. “We will use it well beyond this time. It’s going to be useful for years to come for those patients who live far away. They no longer have to drive two hours for an appointment.”
If you’re looking to set up a telehealth appointment with one of the AU Health registered dietitians, consult your general practitioner first before scheduling. Find our more about the Georgia Cancer Center’s nutrition support services.