A team-focused and patient-centered approach to obesity management


September 20 2022

4 minutes to read


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Obesity is a complex disease with multifactorial causes. Multidisciplinary care is the ideal way to support patients to achieve short-term success, maintain long-term weight loss, and prevent obesity-related complications.

In the United States, 41.9% of the population is obese. With a wide range of associated physical and mental complications such as diabetes, high blood pressure, depression and anxiety, obesity must be addressed by a multidisciplinary team working together to develop a comprehensive patient-centered plan.

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source: Bharti Shetty, MD

What is multidisciplinary care?

The multidisciplinary approach involves a team of healthcare professionals who draw on their expertise and collaborate to deliver high-quality patient care. For example, in a Bariatric Center of Excellence, this team could include a bariatric surgeon, a bariatrician, a registered dietitian, a psychiatrist or psychotherapist, and a non-medical team including an insurance coordinator, bariatric coordinator, nursing staff and office staff.

Studies show that patients receive high-quality care when a group of medical experts work together. Maximizing the skill set of many providers complements and enhances the overall quality of care when managing a multifaceted condition such as obesity.

How can service providers implement a multidisciplinary approach?

The first step is to diagnose the patient’s etiology. Obesity presents differently in each patient depending on their comorbidities and health factors, so establishing a basic understanding of the patient’s underlying conditions is critical in knowing how to proceed with treatment.

When working with many healthcare professionals, sharing a patient’s accurate and in-depth health history is critical to delivering the highest quality care. For example, when treating a patient with an eating disorder, collaboration between a dietician, psychiatrist/psychotherapist, and obesity management specialist is helpful in identifying the aetiology, leading to a sophisticated treatment plan.

For providers and practices that want to lay the foundation for successful multidisciplinary care, there are several steps to take:

  1. People-FOr not totorment: The entire team, from doctors to front office staff, must be trained People’s native language (PFL). PFL puts person before status, so use a phrase like “person who is obese” instead of “person who is obese.” Patients with obesity often experience weight bias, so specialists should use the language of empathy in all conversations with them.
  2. obesity FFurniture: The clinic should have accommodations for obese patients such as chairs, entrances, elevators, bio-impedance scales, blood pressure bracelets and gowns.
  3. Forms and approvals: Ensure that the office has all the necessary forms regarding procedures and approvals (for example, if the office is distributing controlled substances, learn about the state’s rules regarding distribution).
  4. Hospital credentials: Verify that the office is properly accredited to perform hospital bariatric surgery.
  5. Center of Excellence Protocols and Policies: If the office is seeking a Center of Excellence for the treatment of obesity, access the Quality Improvement Program database and accredit metabolic and bariatric surgery for protocols and policies.

What are the benefits of multidisciplinary care?

Multidisciplinary care has broad benefits for both the patient and the health care team. Creating an integrated treatment plan that focuses on the patient first can lead to a more efficient and effective process for all involved.

Potential benefits for patients include:

  • Access to a comprehensive list of medical experts who are well versed in a patient’s medical history;
  • Faster diagnosis and treatment schedule due to real-time collaboration between providers;
  • improved outcomes due to the multidisciplinary approach of clinicians and providers who bring their expertise to the patient’s condition; And the
  • Better patient satisfaction.

Healthcare professionals also see benefits, including:

  • Improving communication and collaboration between care teams and their providers;
  • More efficient processing and schedule process;
  • deeper relationships between clinicians, providers and staff; And the
  • Reducing repetition or delay during the treatment process.

Below is an excellent illustration of how this strategy of care works for a patient preparing for bariatric surgery. Instead of navigating between several providers and treatment protocols, the patient can benefit from the “single window” process:

  1. The patient meets with the obesity coordinator to understand the insurance requirements.
  2. The coordinator works with the insurance company for approval and pre-authorization.
  3. Patient meets with Obesity specialist To get an accurate history and diagnosis, which will then inform the plan of care.
  4. The team works with a dietitian to improve nutrition plans and learn about nutritional requirements before and after surgery.
  5. The psychiatrist works with the patient to provide guidance and expertise in the mental and emotional aspects of bariatric surgery (this is often an insurance-mandated step).
  6. The bariatric surgeon educates the patient about the pros and cons of the procedure and develops a treatment plan.
  7. The entire team works with the patient to achieve short and long term success and prevent complications.

While multidisciplinary care has many benefits, it is not without challenges. To avoid communication barriers or overlap, it is important to clearly define each provider’s role on the team early in the process.

Understanding how and when team members will communicate with the patient is critical to the long-term success of a multidisciplinary approach and will help alleviate confusion or duplication throughout the course of treatment.

Resources to get started

The Obesity Medicine Association (OMA) has resources and networking opportunities to help providers improve and develop their practices. As the largest clinical obesity organization in the United States, OMA consists of more than 4,000 physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other health care providers dedicated to preventing, treating, and reversing obesity. to learn more, Join OMA and access to a wide range of resources.

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