Telemedicine allows healthcare professionals to evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients remotely – and it has been an essential benefit in obesity management. With telemedicine, patients can have direct access to diagnostic tools and assessment with less time and travel, all while having their privacy respected. For the healthcare provider, telemedicine provides improved efficiency, and better patient follows through.
Healthcare coaching via telemedicine has been noted to be effective at reducing body weight in obese adults. Programs that use telemedicine combine three key elements that have helped support sustainable weight loss: a low-calorie diet, the remote monitoring of physical activity, and on-call support. The most equipped dietitian won’t always be live to help a patient with their nutritional questions or whenever they feel like they have plateaued. Telemedicine has galvanized the relationship between healthcare provider and patient.
A study published in the Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, observed the effects of telemedicine on those going through a weight loss journey. An intervention group lost an average of 7.16% of their weight, while the juxtaposed control group only dropped 1.5%.
A total of 30 participants between the ages of 23 and 64 were enrolled in the study. The results showed that 25 participants completed the study, did not have any metabolic ailment, and weren’t using any sort of medication or supplements that could have inadvertently affected their metabolism. Everyone completed a 12-week telemedicine weight loss program, which included a blood pressure monitor and a body composition scale. These peripherals monitored real-time feedback.
Assessments were delivered remotely via a video conferencing app. Doctors were able to use this form of telemedicine to assess a weight-loss journey of 1 to 2 pounds a week. Patients were assigned a health coaching via the telemedicine, while the control group had none. The intervention group also had access to an online curriculum that addressed weight loss goals, triggers, and goal setting.
The results. The study has found that most people who download these weight loss apps are most interested in monitoring their eating habits, not losing weight. With the help of direct feedback from a healthcare provider, self-monitoring was launched into a production cycle that promotes long-term engagement. Participants that have access to a coach increased overall weight loss, as well as average steps for a week, in comparison to the control group that did not have access to a coach.
Even though there are independent factors like social-economic conditions and limitations with technology, telemedicine has been shown it to be a promising feature in future weight loss management plans.