Informatics

The knowledge, skills and tools which enable information to be collected, managed, used and shared to support the delivery of healthcare and promote health (UK Council on Health Informatics Professions).

Described like this, informatics is an everyday tool of dietetic practice. The information contained in the clinical records you generate within your dietetic practice contains information that can be used for many different purposes. First and foremost, the purpose is to provide a complete and accurate record of the information collected, decisions made  and care provided. The information can also be used for many secondary purposes including evaluation and improvement of your practice, outcome measurement, service management, public health and research.

Understanding how information is collected and structured, how to use this information and how information (both identifiable and not) can be shared is all part of the core knowledge of the profession.

The BDA has endorsed an online learning course which aims to help you learn more about the importance of informatics in all areas of clinical practice.   

Information governance

Information governance (IG) is the framework that governs how organisations and individuals manage personal information. The principles of IG require that all reasonable care is taken to prevent inappropriate access, changes or use of data from taking place. For most dietitians this is information relating to service users but also includes organisational information. Records can be held in any form such as paper or digital including databases or email. 

Terminology 

Otherwise known as standardised language. A standard way of recording the dietetic care service users have received is important as we increasingly move towards sharing records both paper, but especially electronically. This standardisation supports the effective clinical recording of data within patient records in a way which is consistent and transferable and therefore facilitates a consistent understanding between professionals of the meaning of the record. 

It reduces errors and misunderstandings between professionals and reduces the need for service users to repeat the same information at every encounter. Importantly, a standard language allows the use of data for secondary purposes as described above. 

For more information on the BDA programme of work relating to standard language for dietetics see the Process pages of this website. 

Telehealth, telecare and telemedicine

Telemedicine is the use of communication and information technology to provide healthcare.

Telecare use technology to help maintain individuals at home. It includes personal alarms and remote monitoring devices.

Telehealth is the delivery of health-related services and information via telecommunications technologies. For dietitians, telehealth could be as simple as a follow-up conducted over the telephone or carrying out a consultation using videoconferencing. It also includes using websites, messaging and email to provide health improvement, preventative or clinical services. 

Dietitians have long used communications technology to support patients who have long-term or acute conditions and are outside of hospital. Dietitians are also getting increasingly involved in using other technologies including SMS for follow-up and maintaining changes in lifestyles, video conferencing and web-based consultations and remote monitoring.