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Telemedicine As a Useful Adjunct in Weight Loss

FitBit scale

Weight loss counseling is an integral component in many healthcare specialties. From dieticians to primary care physicians, endocrinologists, and pediatricians, healthcare providers frequently focus on weight as a factor in many pathologies and health outcomes. Studies have shown that telemedicine and remote lifestyle interventions are effective technologies that physicians can use in conjunction with in-person visits to promote weight loss in their patients.

Appel et al. demonstrated that primary care patients treated with either telemedicine or in-person support were twice as likely (38% and 41%, respectively) to lose 5% or more of their baseline body weight at 2 years compared to a control group of self-directed dieters (19%), with a p<0.001 for both treatment groups compared to the control (1). However, in the same study, it is recognized that the in-person group only attended 2 of 24 recommended therapy sessions between months 7 and 24 – the telemedicine group participated in a median of 16/18 sessions in the same time frame (2). Thus, telemedicine is a powerful tool for promoting weight loss in patients due to its convenience, decreased wait times, and the potential for more effective long-term follow up. Telemedicine allows access to a broader geographical range of patients, and provides flexibility for healthcare providers to schedule patient visits from a variety of locations.

When using of telemedicine for weight management, patients and healthcare providers should seek out software platforms that emphasize security of patient information, ease of use for both patient and provider, and integration with the latest healthcare technology.

Fruit Street Health uses a HIPAA compliant telemedicine platform, along with integration capability for over 175 medical devices, including wireless scales for automatic updating of patient weight between visits. Integration with FitBit allows a provider to track a patient’s daily exercise data, as well as set and follow fitness goals with the patient. Healthcare providers using Fruit Street software can also view patient data sent from devices such as blood pressure cuffs and glucometers to optimize patient care. Patients are able to upload pictures of the food that they eat through the Fruit Street software, and receive comments from healthcare providers on their meal choices.

To learn more about Fruit Street Health’s telemedicine software, or to request a demo, please visit https://www.fruitstreet.com

References

  1. Appel, Lawrence J., Jeanne M. Clark, Hsin-Chieh Yeh, Nae-Yuh Wang, Janelle W. Coughlin, Gail Daumit, Edgar R. Miller, Arlene Dalcin, Gerald J. Jerome, Steven Geller, Gary Noronha, Thomas Pozefsky, Jeanne Charleston, Jeffrey B. Reynolds, Nowella Durkin, Richard R. Rubin, Thomas A. Louis, and Frederick L. Brancati. “Comparative Effectiveness of Weight-Loss Interventions in Clinical Practice.” New England Journal of Medicine N Engl J Med 365.21 (2011): 1959-968.
  2. Yanovski, Susan Z. “Obesity Treatment in Primary Care — Are We There Yet?” New England Journal of Medicine N Engl J Med 365.21 (2011): 2030-031.

 

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Topics: Telehealth, Telemedicine, Health Risk

Laurence Girard

Written by Laurence Girard