Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Telehealth in the Obesity Fight

According to the Free Dictionary, telehealth may be defined as "the use of telecommunication technologies to provide health care services and access to medical and surgical information for training and educating health care professionals and consumers, to increase awareness and educate the public about health-related issues, and to facilitate medical research across distances." Telehealth has the potential to improve the treatment of obesity and obesity-related diseases such as diabetes.

A recent study was done in Ottawa Canada to determine the effectiveness of telehealth for home health care. In the study, literature was analyzed to compare the benefits of treating diabetes using telehealth versus treating diabetes using common diabetes treatment procedures. It was found that patients who received treatment via telehealth had a higher quality of life, and experienced less hospitalization than diabetes patients receiving the normal diabetes treatment.

Although the leaders of the Canadian study indicated that more research needs to be done, as stated above, telehealth improved quality-of life and reduced hospitalizations. The use of telehealth also improved glycemic control and patient satisfaction.

A 2008 study was done in the United States to establish the effectiveness of telehealth in treating obesity. Three weight loss programs were compared. These programs were telehealth, traditional classes, and no program. The study looked at the amount of weight participants regained in each program. The study also assessed a participants' satisfaction with a given program, and the convenience of a program for the participants. Participants in the telehealth program lost slightly more weight than participants in the other two programs.

However, the difference in weight loss was not enormous. But the telehealth group found the telehealth program to be more convenient. And convenience is important in trying to modify a lifestyle. If one program is more convenient to follow than another, a person is more likely to follow the more convenient program.

Some companies are focusing on telehealth. One of these companies is Washington, D.C. based Telcare. Telcare is a medical devices company specializing in health information technology using cellular technology. In 2009, Telcare won the 'best in show' award for a telehealth device at the MoveTechFest Americas conference. The conference was held in Santa Clara, California.

Telcare's device works like a glucose meter. And the device wirelessly transmits diabetic information between the diabetic patient and medical professionals. The device is easy for the patient to use, it reduces complications, and the device may reduce the costs of diabetes by as much as 37%. There are plans to use the device to manage obesity, as well as other chronic diseases.

Therefore, this telehealth device, as well as other telehealth devices, may elevate the treatment of obesity by making it easier to modify lifestyle. Bariatric industry providers should pay close attention to telehealth methodology for fighting obesity.

(Please leave a comment by clicking on the "COMMENTS" link at the lower right part of this blog post. SUBSCRIBE to this blog by scrolling to the bottom of this page and entering your email address.)


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

Subscribe to Overfat Strategy Blog by Email