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By Sarah Pittman, BS Graduate Student in Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

What is telehealth or virtual health care? 

Telehealth is the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health, and health administration (Today’s Dietitian). Telehealth is not all that new. Physicians, psychiatrists, and other medical providers have been providing medical advice to patients via email, phones, and two-way video calls. 

How is virtual health care expanding for Dietitians?  

Dietitians are starting to branch out into the use of virtual health care. More and more dietitians are offering nutrition services remotely, including counseling patients via phone, video calls, or even meeting them in non-traditional settings like coffee shops and house calls.

How can telehealth be used?

  • Therapy
  • Nutrition intervention/plan of care

Benefits of telehealth/virtual health care:

  • Helps clients who travel frequently or live in remote areas see providers
  • Helps health providers expand their practice and meet with more clients
  • Sessions can be as long or as short as needed
  • Flexibility for providers and clients

Downsides to telehealth/virtual health care include:

  • People may prefer to meet in person
  • Older adults may not be great with technology to video chat/email/etc.
  • Clients may prefer eye contact and physical cues while meeting in person
  • Clients must be considered on an individual basis to determine if telehealth is right for them
  • Some insurance plans do not cover virtual health care yet
  • Skype isn’t considered HIPAA compliant
    Although some video services are including: SecureVIdeo, Vidyo, and VSee

Overall, telehealth/virtual health care is an emerging trend that is only going to grow and expand in the coming years.

Do you use telehealth or virtual health care? We would love to hear from you!


  1. Virtual Nutrition Counseling. Published 2020. Accessed March 26, 2020.
  2. Innovations C. What is Virtual Healthcare, and How Does It Fit into Telehealth? Published 2020. Accessed March 26, 2020.
  3. Telehealth Quick Guide