John A. Batsis, MD, an associate professor in the Division of Geriatric Medicine, discussed the advantages and challenges of using telehealth and remote monitoring in obesity management with Healio. He said delivering behavioral weight loss interventions through telehealth is feasible, acceptable and efficacious.
“There’s evidence that demonstrates face-to-face vs. telemedicine-based interventions for weight loss are equivalent,” Batsis told Healio. “There are some studies that showed it actually leads to better weight loss outcomes in given populations. That’s really encouraging data.”
A key advantage to using telehealth for obesity-related care is that it provides primary care clinicians in rural areas an opportunity to refer their patients to obesity medicine programs, which have traditionally been delivered in person at academic or urban centers.
However, implementation challenges remain, as do unanswered questions on which care delivery modalities are best for which patients and what type of staffing is needed from an operational standpoint.
“We know that individuals respond differently not only to weight loss interventions but to general health promotion interventions,” Batsis said. “We’re using this as a one-size-fits-all, but it may not necessarily be that way. So, we really need to be thinking how to individualize it and asking patients their comfort level with the technology and their comfort level in having remote visits.”