Thursday, November 3, 2011

Telemedicine Improves Gastric Bypass Surgery

Today, bariatric surgery is becoming a more acceptable treatment for some forms of obesity. And the surgery is effective. In many cases, bariatric surgery leads to more weight loss than diet, exercise or drugs. Gastric bypass surgery is probably the most popular form of weight loss surgery, and telehealth may be a way to make the surgery more effective.

Telehealth is 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."

Telemedicine, a subset of telehealth, may be defined as “[t]he use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications for the health and education of the patient or healthcare provider and for the purpose of improving patient care. Telemedicine includes consultative, diagnostic, and treatment services.” And a recent study concluded that telemedicine can be an important part of preoperative and postoperative consultation for the gastric bypass patient.

The study was carried out by a set of Midwestern Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (VAMCs). Twenty eight patients who lived an average of 324.5 miles from a bariatric surgery center comprised the subjects in the study. All the patients were high risk patients.

When compared to gastric bypass patients not in the study, the VAMCs patients fared very well. Indeed, it was concluded that ‘[a] cooperative network using teleconference and computerized records facilitated bariatric surgery in high-risk, remotely located VA patients with high patient satisfaction and without compromising surgical outcomes.’ The use of telemedicine eliminated 19,000 miles and 69 days of travel.

The study provides evidence that telemedicine can help a bariatric surgical patient and the surgical team manage preoperative preparation and post operative weight loss and weight maintenance. The results should be of interest to all bariatric centers -- surgical and non-surgical. Many bariatric centers already put special emphasis on counseling. Telemedicine approaches could improve that counseling.

Centers that don’t already do so might consider using telemedicine as a tool in motivating and imparting useful information their patients. Having telemedicine in place for counseling might boost a patient's chances of meeting weight loss goals. And telemedicine could enhance a center's reputation.

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Anonymous George said...

Its really a great publication! Clinic for Weight Loss Surgery in Germany

December 8, 2011 at 10:36 AM  

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