Two years ago when I wrote my President’s Page in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association (ADA) on the topic of nutrition informatics, few of my colleagues had heard the term, informatics, and most were asking what exactly it meant. Today, although familiarity with the term (and its emerging unique practice area in dietetics) has increased, there are still many RDs and DTRs who pose that question. Because of this, ADA’s Nutrition Informatics Committee created a streamlined definition – sometimes referred to as the “elevator speech” – that simply and succinctly describes nutrition informatics: The intersection of information, nutrition, and technology.
Armed with that definition, many of you may realize that nutrition informatics is already part of your daily job routine. As I said in my President’s Page, if you’re using an electronic health record to record nutrition intervention with a patient, maintaining a perpetual inventory using a food & nutrition management software system, costing a recipe or determining its nutrient content, or using technology in any way in your practice of nutrition and dietetics, you are a nutrition informatician (or informaticist – whichever you prefer!). As I write this, ADA is conducting its second all-member survey on nutrition informatics. If you are an ADA member, I urge you to take ten minutes to complete this survey, as it helps us to determine members’ level of comfort with and use of technology in daily practice, as well as assisting us in strategizing for the future, including offering continuing education opportunities.
Speaking of continuing education in informatics, 42 of your colleagues, including several of our customers, took advantage of the first nutrition-focused 10×10 introductory biomedical informatics on-line course last year. Jointly sponsored by ADA, the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), this introductory course covers a wide variety of topics in informatics and includes a unit and discussion topics on nutrition informatics. I had the pleasure of serving as one of the instructors for this course, and due to its popularity, it will be offered again beginning in mid-April and will culminate in an in-person session at ADA’s Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo in San Diego in September. And, for the first time, tuition assistance is available.
Last month, several of my colleagues and I were quoted in an ADA Journal article about nutrition informatics as a career. Take a look at it. You may realize that you are already a nutrition informatician!