This post is by Claire Nichols, Co-founder of Kalix and Accredited Practising Dietitian.
Hi everyone. I am very excited to be sitting here writing our first ever blog post. Well, I actually have to admit, coming up with a topic for the blog was a bit daunting. I mean there are lots of things to write about really, our new features, for example, but what I really wanted to do was to start with something a bit different compared to our newsletter. I so thought I would try to answer some of the big questions; who are we, what are we doing, how we got here and the meaning of life (well maybe not that one). So here goes…
Two years ago I would have never guessed, I would be a co-founder of a software company. My knowledge of IT was little to none. Sure, I could turn on a computer, make a Word document, google a topic, but I didn’t know where, to begin with making a blog, let alone a website. Then came a problem, followed by an idea and then an opportunity.
The problem arose just after starting my previous job as Early Intervention Service Dietitian in North West Tasmania. The position was funded with a special government grant, so there was a lot of pressure to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of my professional practice. Evaluating the effectiveness of dietetic practice, is easy enough, isn’t it? When you see a patient, you measure their weight and the next time you see them, you measure it again. If they’ve lost weight you’ve done a good job if they haven’t, you then haven’t…Hopefully, you are all screaming NO right now.
For the non-Dietitians reading this;
1) Dietitians do not only see patients for weight control.
2) Weight loss is hard! Improving overall diet quality, and improved patient health is what we want to achieve as healthcare professionals, right? But how does one measure healthy lifestyle?more active and establishing a healthy lifestyle are all positive achievements. They all result in improved health, irrespective of the amount of weight loss.
The idea So I went about investigating how to measure and evaluate professional practice. I came across International Dietetics and Nutrition Terminology (IDNT) and the Nutrition Care Process (NCP). Well, actually I was using IDNT at the time and I had been since 2009 but only to write PES statements. There is a lot more to IDNT than PES statements.
For non-Dietitians NCP is a problem-solving method that Dietitians use to “think critically and make decisions that address practice-related problems”. IDNT is a “standardized set of terms used to describe the results of each step of the NCP model.” PES is a statement about the Nutrition Diagnosis or nutrition issue. Clear? If not that’s ok, I will talk about it more in future posts.
Why I like IDNT
- There are lots of terms, getting to close to 1000 now I think (yes I actually like that).
- They cover all the stages of the Nutrition Care Process (Assessment, Diagnosis, Intervention and Monitoring/Evaluation) i.e. initial and review assessments.
- They include most factors in dietetics e.g. Food variety is a term, as well as Meal or snack pattern, Nutrition quality of life responses, Frequency, Consistency, Duration, and Intensity of physical activity and of course, good old Food intake, to name a few.
So my light bulb moment….because IDNT is standardized and covers all the data a dietitian would collect during initial and review assessments if I was to write all my patient documentation using IDNT then I could use a software system to track changes in the variables associated with IDNT terms. Tracking the changes in these variables would be an easy, sensitive and efficient way of evaluating professional practice. I could even use IDNT to evaluate the effectiveness of particular interventions by correlating Intervention terms with changes in the variables associated with Assessment and Monitoring/Evaluation terms.
By using IDNT I could evaluate my professional practice without having to spend extra time measuring, recording and analyzing data. The statistical analysis would be built into patient documentation and patient documentation is something I had to do anyway!
The problem was finding a software system that uses IDNT in this way. I needed a software system that supports quick electronic documentation using IDNT terms, tracks of changes in patient data over time and correlate changes in variables.
There must be something like that out there, right? No, not really. Why? My best guess is because 1) software developers are really really expensive to hire, and 2) actual building software with this functionality would take a long time.
The opportunity- I was very lucky to have my own software developer on hand, Felix Jorkowski. So we embarked on this little project together and it has grown and grown.
So I might be the most unlikely co-founder of a software company but win or lose I am glad I took the risk to try something new. I will finish this blog with a quote which I think sums things up really well.
“You can’t make footprints in the sands of time by sitting on your butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?” Bob Moawad
Nutrition Care Process and Model Part I. The 2008 Update. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008; 108:1113-1117.
Nutrition Care Process Part II: Using the International Dietetics and Nutrition Terminology to Document the Nutrition Care Process J Am Diet Assoc. 2008; 108:1287-1293.