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We found that these components were necessary for weight management services to be successful. You probably need at least some level of each to make weight management “work” in your practices.
Let’s face it, we are not in practice to lose money, and delivering weight management isn’t often a money-maker. As you search the different options for what might work for your practice, consider what ways you can generate revenue as this is important.
You need to know something about evidence-based approaches to helping patients to lose weight. There are a variety of treatment options that can be used, and knowing what to do with the patient in front of you is needed. You don’t have to be an expert in all aspects of obesity treatment but knowing what to do when will help. The key is to know that there ARE options such as healthy lifestyle and diet counseling, medications, referral to programs, and bariatric surgery, to name a few. There are also programs to help you know what to do if becoming highly trained is not for your circumstances.
Although you may tailor your treatment approach to each patient's individual needs, it does help to have a system or process that holds what you are doing so you can do it consistently and well. Who does what when are the building blocks of that system. The model choices can help you decide what will work for your practice's circumstances, and you can go there. This process includes some way of assessing how the system is working and how modifications may be made (quality improvement).
If no one in your practice is willing to drive this forward, it is unlikely to happen. We know that in busy primary care practices, there are many competing priorities. Make an intentional commitment to take this on as a quality improvement project and have someone responsible for it. It does not need to be a physician or even a clinical person leading, but someone needs to lead it. Be clear about what you want out of this, and you’ll be more successful in making progress.
I have struggled with weight issues all of my adult life. As a nurse practitioner, I was excited that Medicare finally acknowledged the obesity epidemic in our country. Obesity has a major impact on so many chronic medical conditions, and 5 to 10% weight loss has a positive impact on chronic conditions and overall health. I am happy to be able to partner with my patients to facilitate their weight loss journey. Thanks to Medicare implementing this program, patients have access to sound, healthy weight loss without any out-of-pocket expense. It is a win for the patient and a win for the healthcare system.