Person standing on weighing scaleTelemedicine is increasingly getting a stronger foothold in the healthcare industry. This technology involves using electronic communications technology and software to provide patients with clinical services such as specialist consultation, medication management, and follow-up visits without them having to visit the doctor’s office physically.

Telemedicine technology is often used with other telehealth software systems to deliver quality patient care. It’s not surprising that telemedicine services are being more widely adopted across the different fields of health care.

Telemedicine has received support from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. The organization believes that the current and future benefits of this technology are exciting and promising for patients, allergists, as well as healthcare systems. One area of health where telemedicine has been found to be extremely helpful in weight management.

With more and more people becoming more health-conscious and seeking to lose weight, the new research provides compelling data that may encourage other health care providers to offer telemedicine services. The study first appeared in the Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare in December 2017.

About the study

Researchers from the California State University, University of California, University of Saint Mary in Kansas, and inHealth Medical Services conducted a study to assess the change in body weight among participants of a 12-week weight loss program. The program integrated health coaching through video conferencing.

A total of 25 obese individuals (12 males and 13 females) participated in the study and were divided into two groups (intervention and control) at random. Each of the participants had access to a secure online platform for data tracking as well as video conferencing with the researchers.

The 13 participants in the intervention group met with a registered dietitian every week and with the physician, every month. The 12 participants in the control group only met with the researchers at the beginning and at the end of the program period.

Findings of the study

The researchers noted a significant difference between the two groups for body weight loss. Those in the intervention group lost an average of 7.16 percent of their body weight. In contrast, those in the control group lost just 1.5 percent.

The study results also show that of the 13 participants in the intervention group, nine achieved clinically significant weight loss (defined as more than 5 percent of body weight loss within six months). In the control group, only one participant lost a clinically significant amount of weight.

The researchers attributed the weight loss to direct feedback from a health care provider, as self-monitoring (via logging health-related information into an app) is often not enough to promote change or encourage long-term engagement in a weight loss program.

As the study shows, health coaching via communications technology may help obese individuals stick to a weight loss program as it allows for a high engagement with a health care provider. Do you agree?