Sunday, February 28, 2016

Bariatric Furniture and Equipment for a Primary Care Practice

If a primary care physician decides to add bariatric or obesity medicine to his or her practice, the physician might need to furnish and equip the office appropriately. The physician's office needs furniture and equipment that can accommodate patients weighing 500+ pounds. And cost is an important part of the furniture and equipment decision. The physician should also recognize that office structure modifications to accommodate larger patients might be in order.

The waiting room is probably the first area of the office that should be reviewed, and retrofitted if necessary. The room ought to be capable of comfortably seating persons that weigh in excess of 500 pounds. So, the waiting room furniture should include couches and chairs that comfortably seat obese persons.

Modifications to the physician's office building may be required. The doors in the office should be wide enough to allow overweight and obese patients to easily pass though. And the bathroom equipment may need some changes. For example, commodes may need to be replaced by bariatric commodes with a 500+ pound capacity.

The physician's office medical equipment should be capable of accommodating persons weighing in excess of 500 pounds. Like the doors and furniture, the equipment should have wider dimensions than normal. Medical equipment that accommodates overweight and obese patients should include scales, tables, over sized blood pressure monitor cuffs and blood drawing chairs.

Of course, there will likely be additional costs associated with the bariatric furniture, equipment, and the possible office modifications. The impact of the costs will depend on what the physician decides he or she needs, and how the physician decides to satisfy those needs. 

And remember, the bariatric furniture, equipment and office modifications could come at a high price -- especially if the physician purchases new furniture and equipment. Indeed, one hospital estimated that a bariatric upgrade for a "standard patient room costs about $24,000." To lower costs, the physician should look for discounts. For example, the physician might consider purchasing used furniture and equipment. This could save a goodly amount of money.

At any rate, a physician who wants to add bariatric medicine to his or her practice has a number of things to consider, including the possible cost of bariatric furniture, equipment and office modifications. However, since the factors that affect the demand for bariatric medicine will likely be present for some time, the associated effort and cost of adding bariatric medicine to a primary care practice may be justifiable.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Adding Medical Weight Loss Services to a Primary Care Practice

A primary care physician might want to consider adding bariatric or medical weight loss services to his or her practice. Strategically, the decision to add medical weight loss services to a practice is a function of at least four key items. These are: the nature of the specific medical weight loss services to be offered, patient demand, the industry's competition, and the physician's medical weight loss capabilities.

First, the physician needs to determine the kind of weight loss services he or she would like to offer. The common services that medical weight loss physicians offer include counseling to improve diet, exercise and behavior.  Pharmacotherapy is also a common service. And the physician can elect to use other experts to provide some of the services. For example, the diet and exercise services could be provided by non-physician specialists in nutrition and physical training. At any rate, the physician must decide on services to offer and how they will be offered.

Once the physician has selected the services to offer, he or she should assess factors affecting the future potential demand for weight loss and weight maintenance services. The CDC recently indicated that "the prevalence of obesity among adults in the U.S. passed 30% for the first time ever [in 2015]." So overweight and obesity will likely be a problem well into the future. Indeed, some experts agree with this.

If the physician concludes that the overall demand for weight loss services will continue into the future, the physician will want to look at specific segments within his or her market area that are most likely to want the weight loss services. Looking at different segments will allow the physician to choose the most appropriate segments to target, based on patient demand and the physician's objectives.

A physician, considering the medical weight loss arena, must also look at the competition in the target market area. Specifically, the physician should look at the number of physicians, hospitals, and clinics that provide weight loss services within the area. The physician should also determine the number of health clubs and commercial weight loss centers that he or she would be competing with.

The physician's training in obesity medicine is a key element in the physician's ability to help patients meet healthy weight loss goals. While obesity medicine training is not currently a part of most medical schools' programs, there are organizations that offer obesity medicine training. One organization that coordinates a number of these organizations is the American Board of Obesity Medicine (ABOM). This organization sponsors CME (continuing medical education) training for physicians wanting to gain competency in obesity medicine.

Four respected organizations that partner with ABOM to offer CME training are the Obesity Medicine Association, The Obesity Society, Columbia University Institute of Human Nutrition, and the Harvard Medical School Department of Continuing Education. A physician should contact these or other appropriate organizations to gain obesity medicine training.

Once the physician has given due consideration to the medical weight loss services to be offered, patient demand, the industry's competition, and the physician's medical weight loss capabilities, an appropriate decision can be made to add or not add medical weight loss services to the physician's practice.

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