In many situations, expert medical care for a particular condition can be delivered over the phone. If a physical examination isn’t necessary, and care can safely be administered at a distance, we will happily arrange for a telemedicine visit.
Telemedicine is a safe and effective means of receiving expert care without having to leave your home or office, and many patients prefer it. Your doctor will help you determine if a visit can be done over the phone, or if you need to be physically present for an evaluation. Any necessary medications can be phoned into your pharmacy of choice for pick-up at your convenience.
Dr. Dimick and her staff are available five days a week, with weekend and nighttime hours, to schedule a telemedicine visit. Fees for these visits are dependent on the time needed to deliver care.
Telehealth Services Aid in Obesity and Weight Management
Surprisingly, because telehealth is such a new service to be utilized, there are already studies showing how useful these virtual visits can be. As reported in the Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, a 12-week study that focused weight loss, included weekly telehealth visits with a trained health coach and the use of an app to track weight and blood pressure resulted in clinically significant weight loss for about 70% of the participants. Compared to the control group, who only had access to the app for tracking purposes and did not receive weekly telehealth visits, this group’s results saw only 8% of the participants losing a significant amount of weight. Overall, the were significant differences in both weight loss and percentage of body weight loss between the group groups.
The study mentioned above is important because it supports the narrative that telehealth programs can help patients lose weight and improve clinical outcomes. With evidence and better outcomes, telehealth advocates hope to convince the centers for Medicare and Medicaid services to include these types of programs in Medicare reimbursement.
Speaking of scientific studies and evidence, numerous studies have shown that accountability is a golden key to weight loss. A few ways to be held accountable are keeping food diaries, appointments with healthcare professionals, social support groups like weight watchers, or an app on a mobile device. No surprise here that when someone is held accountable to a mentor, the outcomes tend be better in that they lose more weight consistently and keep it off longer. With the use of telehealth, weight loss programs can provide the supervision and guidance needed to encourage healthy behavior changes to mitigate the obesity epidemic. For the average American, trying to lose weight without guidance can be extremely discouraging, and sometimes even dangerous. Accountability with an expertly trained interventionalist also promotes empowerment for the patient to be able to make their healthy choices. With empowerment comes confidence and improved self-efficacy which can help lead someone to make true lifestyle changes.
Speaking of relationships, another important factor into managing and preventing obesity with telehealth is the social aspect. As mentioned above, accountability is the golden key, but accountability can also be utilized for the social value it can provide some patients. Moreover, a strong relationship between the patient and interventionalist can help to increase adherence to weight loss programs, as well as fulfill a social contact that some people need. Many studies have concluded or indicated that social support is an important factor for successful behavior change. A study that examined adherence rates for interventions that incorporated aspects of social support, found that programs supervising attendance, offering social support, and focusing on dietary modifications have better adherence than interventions not supervising attendance, not offering social support, and focusing exclusively on exercise.
There are many benefits to using telehealth services for telenutrition! A major benefit is time, as the saying goes, “time is money, and money is time”. Attending a virtual visit can cut down on time it takes to travel to the appointment in an office as well allowing the person to attend from any location that has Wi-Fi. Additionally, telehealth can save people money too! A 2017 study found that telehealth saved patients about $100 in travel time cost per patient, per year. In sum, telehealth reduced travel distances by 5 million miles across the entire study population and resulted in $3 million saved in travel cost over a nine-year period.
Other benefits for utilizing telehealth for weight management:
- Accountability, no matter where you are located
- Less time off work for appointment
- No childcare during appointment
- No time spent in waiting rooms
- No travel, especially during inclement weather
- Ultimately saving valuable time and money!