Leveraging RPM Devices for Virtual Weight Management
Discover how RPM can advance your patient’s weight loss journey
The versatility of telemedicine is rapidly growing and clinicians are providing virtual care in areas beyond just primary and urgent care. One emerging area of care is weight management. However, this type of care can be tricky as it relies heavily on the patient’s ability to self-monitor and provide the clinician with useful data to track progress.
An extremely helpful tool to reduce this potential barrier is remote patient monitoring (RPM). Using RPM devices allows clinicians to monitor, collect and analyze real-time patient data. Leveraging RPM devices in a virtual weight management program can make a significant impact on a patient’s weight loss journey. As well as reduce long-term obesity related diseases.
What is virtual weight management?
During a virtual weight management appointment, typically patients meet with their provider to receive information and learn tactics for weight loss management. Typical topics discussed during these sessions could include healthy food substitutions, portion control, selecting and preparing healthy food, mindful eating and relapse prevention. After the appointment, it is up to the patient to put these strategies into play and track their progress.
There are multiple reasons an individual might enroll in a clinical weight loss program. For example, it can be a means to help manage other chronic diseases that are heightened by being overweight such as:
type 2 diabetes
Or an individual who had gastric bypass surgery may start a weight reduction program to ensure they keep off the weight.
No matter the reason an individual begins a program, RPM devices can assist the clinician in tracking and analyzing the patient’s progress.
Types of RPM devices for weight management
There are a variety of different types of RPM devices a clinician can leverage as a part of their programming. Determining which RPM device to use will depend on the type of data you want to track and monitoring the right data will drive progress and help inform decisions. The following are a few common RPM devices and how they can be utilized for effective patient weight loss.
Blood Pressure Cuffs
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is often caused by excessive weight gain and obesity. It’s a big reason why many individuals begin a weight management program because it can lead to more serious conditions (like heart attacks). Monitoring and managing high blood pressure can be a crucial part of a patient’s program.
Bluetooth blood pressure cuffs are similar to the typical blood pressure cuff you would find in a clinic. They work by measuring the change in the patient’s artery motion. Based on this motion, it calculates the patient’s heart rate and blood flow. Then sends the data straight to the clinician on a secure platform for monitoring and reporting.
By utilizing bluetooth blood pressure cuffs, the clinician is able to monitor the day-to-day status of the heart. As well as track whether the weight loss program is effectively managing the patient’s high blood pressure.
Wearables (Smart Watches/Activity Trackers)
It’s widely known that physical activity is a large part of losing weight (and just overall health). Activity trackers, smart watches and other types of wearables allow clinicians to track and utilize the following data:
This data gives clinicians a peek into the patient’s lives. And allows for a better understanding of how activity is affecting the patient’s health.
In addition to the more common smart wearables like Apple Watches and FitBits, there are also wearables in the form of patches. These can track more advanced metrics such as blood pressure, weight, heart rate and stress levels.
Like most RPM devices, wearables provide real-time, objective data to the clinician. They also effectively hold the patient accountable to their own weight loss goals and success, increasing program adherence. This is particularly important, as online weight management/weight loss programs rely heavily on program adherence and participation.
Smart/Bluetooth Weight Scale
Probably the most common RPM device for weight management is a bluetooth scale or cellular scale. A bluetooth or cellular scale allows both the patient and clinician to regularly track their weight over time.
Bluetooth/cellular scales not only allow the clinician to track the patient’s progress daily but RPM scales also measure more than just weight. Many measure body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage and lean mass. This gives clinicians a more complete picture of where their patient’s health truly falls.
Introducing RPM devices into your patient’s program
Once you’ve determined what RPM device(s) would best suit your patient’s program, it's time to introduce it to the patient. Consider the following steps to help guide you through the initial integration stage.
Outline RPM to your patients - It's important that your patients understand how RPM works. You should also be clear on what the expectations are from them as patients using the device.
Highlight the benefits of using RPM devices - Patient buy-in is essential for a successful weight management program using RPM devices. Thus cueing them in on all the benefits they will receive is crucial. Additionally, providing your patients with RPM related educational resources could also be helpful for program adherence.
Provide clear instructions - Ensure your patient knows how to set up and use the device. You may also want to let them know where they can seek technical assistance if need be.
Giving your patients the information and tools they need will help the initial integration phase go smoothly. And will help set up the rest of their program for success.
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