14 Apr 2020
I was flattered to be asked to write about my experiences of digital innovation and dietetics during the pandemic. Working in Scotland, we have several award winning Dietitians whose digital innovation and leadership has been recognised and inspires many, including myself, within our profession. We have an amazing digital network, which uses the #dnmahp to share practice.
The network is comprised of professionals who have completed the digital leadership programme led by NHS National Education Scotland, it's chaired by a dietitian and the leadership group of 16 (supported by Scottish Government) includes a further two dietitians.
I’m currently employed in a non-clinical Dietetic role, hence my reservation about how could I truly comment upon COVID-19 and dietetics. Then I thought, ‘so what?’ and a blog was born.
Nutrition and clinical dietetics services provide evidence based dietetic advice from the “cradle to the grave”. We are an integral part, at the hub of many services, delivered in settings across the whole of healthcare. Digital strategies, innovation and pathways, for example using Attend Anywhere or Near Me for consultations, or accessing webinars for information has already been planned or adopted within dietetic pathways across Scotland.
COVID-19 has brought the benefit of being able to utilise these digital solutionsto the fore, rather than them being an “optional add on” to services. Social distancing and new guidance to reduce risk and protect vulnerable groups, such as women during pregnancy have been key to driving forward change. The pace and barriers to change, whether it be staff reservations, equipment or information governance have rapidly dissolved during these unprecedented times.
What did Dietitians do?
Dietitians are expert communicators. We have been able to collaborate, champion and connect with key stakeholders at a local and national level to rapidly establish and share structured pathways for service delivery that are adopted and implemented.
Departments are quickly identifying areas of clinical practice where digital solutions are essential. In my local area, an example has been supporting people living with or newly diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
How did they do it
Networks built through BDA specialist groups and branches have quickly shared information and enabled us to prevent duplication and share practice. Examples include webinars and guidelines on nutrition for COVID-19. Social media such as Twitter and Facebook has provided a forum for information sharing and support. Microsoft Teams has been implemented at pace in Scotland, enabling further connections through ‘channels’ and a secure way to share documents and information.
Other digital tools being utilised include blogs, YouTube webinars, Florence and Near Me (Attend Anywhere) to name a few. These sit alongside updated statements on Information Governance during COVID-19.
COVID-19 has pulled dietitians in many different directions with competing pressures and challenges. We may be a relatively small profession compared to some of our fellow AHPs but collectively we have a loud voice and have shown how we can adapt to maintain services whilst minimising risk to patients and our workforce. Video- calls have become second nature.
Taking it forward
I have been passionate about digital transformation for years and am in awe of work that has been achieved literally in weeks, which perhaps may have taken months if not years in the past. I am part of the Digital Dietetics group, led virtually by Chloe Adams at the BDA office and hope that as a profession we will be able to evaluate and build upon this learning. Short snappy learning logs will be invaluable to help reflect on the COVID-19 digital revolution.
- AHPScot blog: https://ahpscot.wordpress.com/tag/covid-19/
- Information Governance Scotland: https://www.informationgovernance.scot.nhs.uk/covid-19-information-governance-advice
- Microsoft Teams: https://sway.office.com/Qtpwo3gxZMXiiGZB
- Patient webinars: https://patientwebinars.co.uk/
- BDA - Implementing Digitial Tools
Project Manager - East Region, Prevention and Remission of T2D Programme