How Can Virtual Dietitians Help Employee Health?
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Why Registered Dietitians are an essential part of workplace wellness for your company

How Registered Dietitian's Can Support Workplace Wellness

Does your employee health plan include dietitian services? Coverage for face-to-face access to local dietitian services is a no-brainer for any employer health plan. Seeing a dietitian virtually through phone, video, online course or virtual group programs also offers a great option to reach your employees especially if they are shift workers, remote workers or live in locations where access to services is limited. Virtual support also offers the unique benefit of being able to more easily include spouses to fully integrate the nutrition plan at home for families.

Online health, nutrition, and wellness counseling have the potential to change the landscape of workplace wellness programs.

  • 30% of Canadians have a chronic disease
  • 60% of Canadians are overweight or obese
  • 61% of employees are burned out on the job
  • $3.5 billion is spent on stress-related absences by Canadian employers each year

Employee health issues cost employers money when employees make more claims leading to higher premiums and prescription drug costs. Investing $1 in dietitian services has been shown to save $4 in drug costs:

Lifestyle interventions led by dietitians can help employers SAVE MONEY by reducing health-related lost productivity by 64% and decreasing disability days by 87%. Interventions led by dietitians can also improve the health of employees by reducing their risk of chronic diseases and by helping them to manage nutrition-related issues like food allergies.

Dietitians of Canada

Virtual dietitians

Working with dietitians is a cost-effective way to provide information and solutions for many of your employee’s health issues and your workplace productivity and healthcare costs. But what is the best way to provide dietitian services for your employees?


Does Virtual Health and Nutrition Counseling Deliver?

With advances in technology, online health care is an emerging trend for medical professionals including physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, and therapists to meet with and counsel clients. Virtual nutrition counseling by dietitians via phone or video conference, also called e-counseling, distance counseling, or telehealth, is a way to meet the needs of employees and companies to cost-effectively and efficiently deliver personal, individualized health and wellness coaching to a busy and diverse workforce. Not only is virtual counseling cost-effective, but it is also convenient and less time-consuming because it eliminates the time and stress of travel to and from face-to-face appointments. “Virtual nutrition counseling enables dietitians to see clients who travel frequently for work or who live in remote areas and wouldn’t be able to commute to a dietitian’s office,” explains Today’s Dietitian.

Virtual health and wellness coaching can be conducted via telephone, Skype, or other video conferencing tools, email, with dedicated digital counseling software, or using messaging and chat software or apps. Digital counseling can be done one-on-one or in group sessions at work.


Benefits of Virtual Health and Nutrition Counseling

1. Cost-Effective

Virtual dietitian counseling saves time and money for employees because they do not have to travel to and from their appointment. Some appointments may require an hour of time, while check-in sessions may last only a few minutes.

2. Accessibility

Online counseling “provides access to those who otherwise would not have access to services,” finds TheraNest. Employees who live in remote areas, who travel for work, or whose work schedule makes it difficult to schedule in-person office appointments benefit from the flexibility of distance counseling.

3. Less Anxiety

For employees prone to shame, stress, and anxiety, virtual counseling “is less anxiety-inducing than face-to-face counseling, which includes worrying over what to wear, travel time, and dealing with traffic. Not having to deal with these issues leaves more time and energy for the individual to focus on him or herself and the issue,” says Better Help.

4. Removes Obstacles

Distance counseling eliminates reasons to avoid counseling sessions due to bad weather, traffic, or other common excuses. Virtual counseling also offers the potential benefit of getting family members on board who may not have access to attending face-to-face sessions with their spouse for support.

5. Reimbursable

As telehealth becomes increasingly commonplace, more insurers are paying for virtual counseling. “Nearly all payers now believe telehealth will help rural members access providers and may attract companies that want to offer modern conveniences to employees of the Netflix generation, who expect on-demand services. Insurers are also hoping telehealth will live up to its hype by keeping people out of more expensive healthcare settings,” according to Modern Healthcare.

By The Numbers: Does Virtual Counseling Work?

Although over 20 years old, virtual counseling is relatively new when compared to traditional health counseling. For employers, measuring the success rate and benefits of digital counseling depends on subjective feedback from employees as well as cost-analyst by benefits administrators.

  • 21% of patients who have used telemedicine services say the quality of care was similar to or higher than an in-person visit. – Software Advice
  • A study of the outcomes of care for 8,000 patients who used telemedicine services found no difference between a virtual appointment and an in-person office visit. – C2 Solutions
  • US employers could save up to $6 billion per year by providing telemedicine technologies to their employees. – American Hospital Association

Best Practices for Virtual Health and Wellness Counseling

Virtual counseling is becoming increasingly commonplace and is developing a track record for what works, and what doesn’t.

1. Equipment

A good digital connection between the individual and the counselor is important for successful virtual coaching. Technology has advanced to the point where many employees and companies have higher-quality video equipment, smartphones, and faster internet connections than ever before.

For some types of health and wellness counseling, video conferencing is preferable to telephone sessions because the coach and client can have eye-to-eye contact and the counselor is able to see the client how responds and engage with body language and verbal cues, which can be very important for addressing many physical and emotional health issues. Video conferencing also offers the option of being able to share your screen to provide education handouts and drawings that can enhance learning.

2. Confidentiality

Client confidentiality and privacy is a critical issue for both in-person and virtual counseling. Employees want to be assured that counseling sessions are secure, respect their privacy, and follow privacy laws. Services such as VSee and Doxy.me video conferencing offer secure telehealth software solutions.

3. Informed Consent

Virtual counselors should get informed consent from all e-clients, just as they would in person. The same ethical codes for counselors apply to virtual sessions as in-office sessions. Workplaces that provide virtual health and wellness coaching should follow the same guidelines in sourcing and recommending health and wellness virtual coaches for their employees.

Virtual health, nutrition, and wellness coaching combined with workplace wellness programs is the ultimate win/win for employees and companies. Increased productivity and reduced benefits costs can be achieved by a happier, healthier workforce that has their health and nutrition needs addressed in a timely, supportive environment. As a Registered Dietitian for close to 20 years, online nutrition course facilitator, and workplace wellness and productivity expert, I’ve seen first-hand the difference nutrition can make. The experienced dietitian team in our practice can tell you in person, by phone, or via videoconferencing, which are all effective ways to counsel our clients on weight concerns, meal planning for home/travel/shift work, heart health, digestion issues, diabetes, and more.

Virtual health and wellness nutrition counseling is an important tool that can truly benefit the physical and mental health of your employees.

PS – Want to determine how your workplace rates with nutrition?  Take our Workplace Nutrition Scorecard  https://www.healthstandnutrition.com/workplacescorecard/

Sign up for my quarterly corporate wellness newsletter loaded with practical nutrition tips, articles, and recipes for a healthy workplace here:  EnerTHRIVE! Workplace Nutrition Newsletter

Interested in elevating employee health, productivity, and mental health or improving your employee wellness program?

Check out some of our popular employee wellness services:

 Workplace Professional Speaking Engagements

 Onsite & Virtual Nutrition Counselling

Virtual Health Cooking Classes

Co-Branded Quarterly Nutrition Newsletter

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Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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