The problem of obesity in the United States has been burgeoning over the past years, growing in prevalence from 30.5% in 2000 to 42.4% in 2018 according to the CDC. With the rising number of obese individuals, obesity-related conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes also increase in incidence, along with accompanying higher medical costs. It is therefore imperative to address the epidemic of obesity with highly effective strategies that promote weight loss and maintenance of ideal body weight.
One of the more recent trends in health care is remote patient monitoring (RPM). This is a telehealth solution that uses connected medical devices to track and transmit patient data wherever the patient is located. The application of RPM allows health care delivery outside the usual model of being in the clinic or hospital. Here we outline 3 ways RPM can help patients deal with obesity and achieve their weight loss goals.
Measuring vital patient data
The most basic requirement in a weight loss program is having the means to reliably and accurately measure weight. Among available RPM devices, a weighing scale with body impedance analysis functions will be greatly helpful in monitoring weight changes. This device not only allows measurement of patient’s weight, but also gives an estimate of the composition of this weight value, i.e. breaking down the percentage of fat mass, water weight, muscle mass and bone mass. Using this device helps patients see whether any changes in weight actually are due to losses in fat or muscle mass, of which the former is desired while the latter is not. Weight loss strategies such as nutrition therapy and exercise can then be adjusted based on the readings.
As a good number of obese individuals may have Type 2 Diabetes, tracking blood glucose levels may also be an integral component in the weight loss program. An RPM device, the glucometer, may be useful for these patients with diabetes who are seeking to lose weight. The ability to monitor blood glucose levels can help guide eating habits, such as which food choices and portions result in less blood glucose spikes, or conversely, lead to lesser instances of hypoglycemia.
A proportion of obese individuals may also have hypertension, and as such, may need to monitor blood pressure regularly. In the weight loss process, this may make a difference in helping patients exercise effectively and safely, as exercise may lead to elevations in blood pressure. Hence, having a blood pressure monitor handy will also be useful in helping obese and hypertensive individuals avoid potential adverse events in their weight loss journey.
Tracking trends in patient parameters
One of the features of an RPM platform such as DrKumo is that besides simply obtaining patient data, the system also collates these data and organizes it, displaying data trends through time. This allows for not just simple monitoring of data but also tracking changes to patient parameters over time. Patients can view these data trends and see which weight loss interventions and strategies are effective, and lead to a more individualized and focused program for weight loss.
Promoting close collaboration between care coordinator and patient
Lastly, RPM also allows patients’ care coordinators to view and monitor their data. They may be alerted as well to the occurrence of an adverse event, such as a blood pressure spike or hypoglycemia. These adverse events may have a negative impact on weight loss efforts, and patients may give up on exercising or nutrition therapy if they are not addressed promptly. With RPM, care coordinators can be informed of these events and patient data trends and then give appropriate recommendations to patients to modify treatment regimens or tweak their weight loss strategies. This feature thus promotes a closer collaboration between patient and care coordinator that would not be possible in the traditional clinic or hospital-based health care delivery model.
Remote patient monitoring can help individuals deal with obesity by monitoring important patient data relevant to weight loss goals, tracking data trends, and connecting them with their care coordinators. As health care delivery advances and evolves, more patients should be aware of the potential benefits of RPM for dealing with obesity.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, September 30). Adult obesity facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html