Friday, April 27, 2018

Primary Care Can Fight Obesity with the Help of the Community

In a recent post, we discussed the MDPP or the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program. In our discussion, we indicated that the program’s purpose is to treat Medicare beneficiaries who are prediabetic. Further, we said that the program would be administered in community settings such as YMCAs. Based on past studies, it has been concluded that a partnership between healthcare organizations and community organizations can effectively address prediabetes in Medicare beneficiaries. This kind of partnership could also be cost effective in addressing obesity.

Cost-effectiveness is of the utmost importance in healthcare. Weight loss and weight loss maintenance are extremely difficult to accomplish. It requires frequent interventions with the obese individual. And it is costly for a healthcare provider, such as a physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant to engage the patient in a way that causes the patient to lose and maintain weight loss on a long-term basis. This is where partnerships between healthcare providers and community organizations could make a difference.

Indeed, in an article entitled “Collaborations Between PCPs, Community, Needed to Tackle Obesity Epidemic,” a primary care physician indicated how he set up a weekly obesity class with community help. He used a high school coach to give weight loss related pep talks at each one of the weekly sessions. The physician said that 25% of the program’s participants lost at least 6 pounds during six months, and that he received Medicare reimbursements of $19,000 during the first year of the program.

The AAFP (American Academy of Family Physicians) recognizes the importance of partnerships between healthcare providers and the community. In an article entitled, “Integration of Primary Care and Public Health,” the AAFP indicated that “Family Medicine within the Primary Care specialties must co-align with the public health sector, two fields with a common interest yet functioning independently for the last century.”

Since obesity is one of the biggest problems facing our society, it makes sense to create relationships between healthcare organizations and community organizations to address the problem. These relationships will benefit PCPs, patients, and the community as a whole.


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