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Use These New Digital Tools for Patient Engagement in Weight Loss Programs

· HealthTech,PopHealth,Healthcare,Hospitals,Wellbeing

No matter how many pounds you want to lose, 5 or 50, it’s not easy. It takes sustained effort, consciousness and accountability that make people groan--or give up. Patient engagement and weight loss plague health care professionals, as obesity contributes to chronic health conditions and premature death. Too many providers know too little about effective strategies for lack of adequate training in weight loss management. How do you help patients stay on a weight loss program?

Isn’t there a pill I can take?

Medicine has long grappled with the challenges to treating chronic disease like obesity. Successful treatment consists of more than an office visit and a pill. It takes lots of follow-up, monitoring, and, in some cases, medication management. Most importantly, it takes patient engagement to maintain contact, follow up and counseling.

Patients must be motivated to sustain not only their efforts in losing weight, but in scheduling and attending follow up appointments to gauge progress, assess prognosis, and coach improvement. Patients with transportation challenges or rural residents, for instance, often struggle to continue the necessary care. And even if transportation isn’t an issue, it’s just too easy to drop it.

That’s where health coaching/follow up digital platforms come in. v

Digital platforms as partners in weight loss

Digital platforms supply easy access to follow-up care and health coaching. The accessibility of remote communication via smartphone, tablet or computer improves patient engagement in following doctor’s orders--especially if it’s easy to use. Users get medication review, instructions on nutrition and exercise, as well as one-on-one virtual consultation with specialists.

And if they don’t have to take the time to make that appointment, wait for a follow up visit, and then drive to the appointment, patients are more likely to take initiative and do what the doctor orders from the comfort of their home--right on their phone.

So, a platform like Zillion gives complete follow up care through low-cost remote delivery 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, about medicine and the next steps in any weight loss program on secure, private communication and health data collection pathways between patient and doctors, nutritionist or other staff involved in patient care.

No doubt, studies show digital technologies specifically designed for weight loss succeed in helping patients:

  • Attain weight loss goals

  • Make lasting health improving lifestyle changes.

One study, in particular, documented successful weight loss and resulting reduction in chronic diseases associated with obesity, of patients using a web-based digital lifestyle coaching platform that provided nutrition and exercise information and direction. Patients who stuck with the program over a year used online exercise workouts and lessons as well as calorie counters to successfully lose weight and inches.

Mobile Devices

Knowing that patients probably use mobile devices the most, medical professionals choose programs tailored to their patients’ needs. They know chances of improved patient engagement depends upon whether patients must access their weight loss program through a portal maze of clicks or a mere one or two clicks on a user-friendly procedure or process based tool on their smart phone. Health tools that travel with patients are more likely to be used for better health management.

So, mobile devices, such as Fitbits or Apple Watches that track and analyze physical activity and data, supplement and complement patient portals more commonly used today. Wearables, electronic health records portals, and remote monitoring platforms increase patient participation and satisfaction with health care.

Virtual Health Coaches

The Precision Nutrition Coaching Program weight loss tool helps patient lose weight and change their lifestyle by monitoring patient vitals and progress. It records changes in blood pressure, HDL and waist inches. Virtual health coaches such as these, use natural language, so patients can easily ask questions about their health needs and engage in easier conversations about their exercise and diet. It’s an easy, efficient and low-cost alternative to an office visit, likely to promote better self-management.

Weight loss must be approached from multiple levels, and these programs do just that. They contain the tools for patients to monitor themselves, achieve goals, learn and adopt new behaviors, and receive the advice and feedback they need from professionals.

These tools fill the gap that physicians lack: time and training. It’s perfect for patient empowerment.

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