In today’s world, we use technology to assist us with pretty much everything. Whether we’re using an app to order dinner or telling Alexa to add milk to the grocery list, we rely on technology to help make our lives easier and to make us more productive. That’s why telemedicine is an increasingly important field – why not use technology to make us healthier too?
Recent studies have shown that telemedicine can be an extremely helpful tool for patients who are obese. Connecting with doctors remotely or getting assistance in tracking eating and fitness habits can all greatly improve a patient’s chances of losing weight and more successfully managing their health.
With improvements in technology, obese patients who live in a rural area or are far from their doctor’s office can now use telemedicine to access reliable, quality health care – right from the comfort of their own home. Individuals who used to have to eschew care due to residing in remote areas can now coordinate care with their health professionals through emails and online video chats. This easy access to their physicians (including specialists, nutritionists, fitness coaches, etc.) can now help make their health care that much more manageable.
Patients working with their doctors remotely found they were able to receive better assessments of their condition and were more likely to create and follow programs for both nutrition and physical activity. They were also more likely to be screened for risk factors, which then allowed them to be able to implement strategies that would best fit their health goals. This personalized health care plan is so much more effective than the one-size-fits-all programs that are often used in traditional medicine – what works for one patient just might not work for another, meaning that individualized programs through telemedicine will often be more useful and efficacious.
For patients who don’t live in rural areas but still don’t have reliable or consistent transportation options, conducting appointments online can also be helpful (since they can end up eliminating the time and costs related to traveling to access medical care). Additionally, many obese patients are faced with serious mobility issues, which can severely limit their ability to make it to a doctor’s office or hospital. Even with handicap parking permits, some obese patients still aren’t able to physically get themselves to a doctor or weight loss center. That’s why telemedicine can take away the concern of being mobile enough to get to an appointment.
Obese patients who need to see specific specialists in other areas can also benefit from using telemedicine services. Instead of being limited to just the physicians in their area, telemedicine can provide access to any doctor in any location who can truly best support the patient’s needs and goals. This type of health care also means a patient’s entire team of medical professionals can work to coordinate their care (since it’s easier for a team to connect online with each other rather than face-to-face).
Perhaps the most significant way telemedicine can aid obese patients is by helping them better monitor their symptoms and their progress towards obtaining a healthier lifestyle. Many people who use their smartphones to download weight loss-related telemedicine apps are able to reach their goals because they have a clearer, more realistic picture of their health. These self-monitoring apps can lead to overall weight loss, as well as positive changes to eating habits and increased physical activity. Apps that come with coaches or direct feedback from health care providers prove to be even more impactful (since a second party can help provide motivation or advice to patients).
There are also technological devices that can help obese patients using telemedicine. There are some device packages that come with a scale, a blood glucose monitor, and a communication gateway box, which sends all of the patient’s data to a server, where a medical professional can monitor the data. When the patient gets the device, their doctor will set pre-established thresholds that match their specific measurements or needs. Then, if the individual’s numbers go outside these parameters even slightly, their doctor will be immediately notified.
This access to timely and accurate readings can help patients partner with their doctor to better adjust their behaviors. This also means that as the patient, individuals aren’t stuck trying to decipher their measurements or interpret the findings; all of that will be done when the data is sent remotely to the health professionals monitoring their care.
Not only can telemedicine help obese patients achieve their goals of weight loss or better fitness, this type of technology can also make their connection with their health care team that much stronger. Trust between a physician or other medical professional can greatly boost a patient’s confidence in coming up with and sticking to a manageable plan for improving symptoms.
Telemedicine can be helpful in several ways, including assisting patients in making clear goals for themselves, measuring those goals along the way, and helping them team up with their doctors for overall management of their health. With advances in telemedicine, obese patients now have an even clearer path to a healthier lifestyle.