At the 2016 GI Roundtable, Gastrointestinal Associates' Bergein Overholt, MD, shared several reasons you should enter into the field of obesity treatment and offered a plan for setting up a multidisciplinary clinic, Gastroenterology and Endoscopy News reports.
Here's what you should know:
1. The technology is available for private practice physicians to offer weight management in GI private practices.
2. Dr. Overholt said helping patients lose weight and maintain that weight loss is one of the most effective treatments in terms of long-term health. However he doesn't believe his practice's weight-loss program will be a "money maker."
3. Dr. Overholt doesn't believe that the bariatric endoscopy centers that currently exist can meet the demand the entire nation has for the service. He said "moving endoscopic bariatrics into the sphere of community-based practices is how we can really start taking care of people from a population standpoint."
4. The first step to establish such a program is to ensure you have the resources for it. Dr. Overholt and his partners spent a year planning, identifying staff, building infrastructure, training and credentialing employees and developing a marketing plan to make the program work.
5. Correctly marketing the program is also an important step towards seeing it succeed.
6. Ensuring your practice has the proper equipment to offer the service is crucial. Dr. Overholt has several special scales, examination tables and chairs that can accommodate obese people, phone apps, fitness trackers and several endoscopic devices for weight loss.
7. Having a strong patient-physician relationship is important to ensuring success as well. Dr. Overholt works with his patients to ensure they know what to expect to achieve the best results.
8. It's too soon to quantify if the program was successful. Dr. Overholt began offering the program in September 2015. Since then he has had 29 patients enrolled and 23 have been fitted with intragastric balloons. The remaining six are in the process of lowering their BMIs so the surgery can be completed successfully.
*An earlier version of this article reported WMPs would be a major "moneymaker"; the article was updated on 8/12 to reflect Dr. Overholt's actual quote that he doesn't believe a weight loss program will be a major moneymaker.
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