October until the New Year is a tough season for dieters. Every month, there is a holiday that can present numerous challenges to remaining compliant to a diet, with temptation lurking around every corner in the form of candy corn, warm apple pies, buffets, and dining room tables full of fattening, delicious food. By the time New Year’s rolls around — if they are not careful — dieters can find that in three months they put on more weight than they lost in the previous six months. It can be even more difficult to come back from such a setback.
The key is prevention. Set your patients up for success this holiday season by making plans now to deal with holiday temptation. To get the conversation started, click here to download Robard’s helpful Holiday Goal Setter worksheet. Then, use the tips below to have some proactive discussion with your patients to help them stay compliant between now and the New Year:
1. Stock up on Tricks, not Treats
When trick or treating time rolls around, that bowl of candy can look mighty appetizing. Your patients might be eating one piece of candy for every five they give out. Suggest that if they choose to be festive on this holiday, instead of handing out candy, provide fun non-candy dollar store items that the kids will still love, like glow sticks, whoopee cushions, crayons, bubbles, stickers, and temporary tattoos. In addition to avoiding candy cravings, they’ll also be accommodating children who may have food sensitivities/ allergies.
2. Eat healthy first.
If your patients have company or family holiday parties to attend, suggest that they be proactive and control hunger by eating a healthy meal or snack before they arrive to the party. They can even bring along a yummy weight loss shake packet or protein bar that complies with their diet to enjoy just before or during the party to ensure that they are satiated enough to avoid giving in to hunger and overeating. Robard’s meal replacement shakes and bars are delicious and scientifically designed for the highest level of satiety to curb hunger and cravings.
3. Bring your own portion-controlled plate and cup
Those large dinner plates can cause people to pile on far more than a single portion of food, and people are inclined to try and finish all the food on their plate. To help with this, suggest that patients bring their own smaller plate, maybe even find one with sectioned out portions, so that they are aware of how much they are consuming. Bring a five ounce cup and limit oneself to one high calorie beverage a night, and stick to water for the rest of the night.
4. Eat mindfully.
People often overeat because they revert to unconscious eating, leading them to not recognize when they are full. Eating mindfully helps dieters to slow down and focus on what they are eating and how much to create a better connection between their physiological need and their mental state. This can also help them make healthier choices about food selection in addition to eating less. Click here for 9 easy tips on how to eat mindfully during the holidays.
5. Buddy up.
When possible, patients can identify a friend, family member, coworker, or significant other who can be their support system through the holidays. This person may also be on a diet, have similar weight loss goals, or may be someone who can just be there to eat healthier with them, cheer them on, and remind them of their goals (without shaming). It is important that this buddy be positive and uplifting, and can help bring a sense of joy and camaraderie to the pursuit of eating healthy during the holidays. Ask your patients if they have someone in their lives that can support them in this way, and coach them on how to approach such people and make the request for support.
Want more tips on how to keep your patients on track through the holiday season? For Robard customers, there is a wealth of complimentary resources and information available to you in the Holiday section of Robard.com. Simply click the link, log in, and start browsing. For non-Robard customers, contact us today to learn more about our services and resources!
Blog written by Vanessa Ramalho/Robard Corporation
How would you feel about having an extra $31,447 in your pocket? Well, according to findings in a new John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study, that is the average savings in direct medical costs and productivity losses that a 40-year-old adult could expect to see by going from obese to normal weight.
But the study also found that cost savings is apparent for adults at any age group. A 20-year-old adult who goes from obese to healthy weight would see an average savings of $28,020 over their lifetime. After age 50, the largest cost savings occur when an individual with obesity moves to the normal weight, with an average savings of $36,278.
Think about what someone could if they lost all their unhealthy weight and re-allocated the money they would have spent on health care costs toward savings. They could buy a brand new car… a down payment on a house… a vacation around the world… college tuition for their kids. Why continue to allow obesity to hold our lives back?
There is already a wealth of research that illustrates how obesity and related comorbid conditions affects health care costs, workplace productivity, and job absenteeism. The estimated annual health care costs of obesity-related illness are a staggering $190.2 billion or nearly 21 percent of annual medical spending in the United States. This narrative really brings those numbers home to a more personal level when we take a look at what those costs look like for an individual.
“Most previous models have taken into account one or a few health risks associated with obesity. Subsequently, the forecasted costs may be unrealistic,” says Saeideh Fallah-Fini, PhD, a former GOPC visiting scholar who was part of the research team. “In our study, the model we developed takes into account a range of immediate health complications associated with body weight, like hypertension or diabetes, as well as all major long-term adverse health outcomes, including heart disease and some types of cancer, in forecasting the incremental health effects and costs to give a realistic calculation.”
Achieving a healthy weight provides financial benefits to any individual, medical practice, hospital, or company — it’s a win/win for any person, across any industry and population, and now it’s easier than one might think to put into practice. If you are ready to start reducing health care expenses by treating obesity, take a look at these two opportunities below to learn more and get started:
Obesity treatment research is continuously updated. It can be challenging to stay abreast of new treatment protocols, pertinent nutrition information, and new solutions. To help health care professionals to stay ahead of the curve, Robard Corporation offers “Updates in Obesity 2016-2017,” a free, on demand webcast video featuring Dr. Christopher Case, a board certified endocrinologist in Jefferson City, Missouri, practicing at Jefferson City Medical Group.
During this presentation, Dr. Case reviews recently published articles in obesity management and the impact in clinical management; defines the role of macronutrients in weight loss and obesity through the examination of current published studies; and, advises you on how to implement practical weight maintenance techniques and applications through the assessment of current research.
Watch the video below. Then, be sure to check out how Robard can help you treat obesity.
How do you get patients to stick with the plan?
Compliance to a medical treatment can be challenging, to say the least. Patients want to be healthier, more active, and more energetic. Yet time and time again, they fall off the wagon and resort to going back into the same old habits that don’t support their progress. Why? (Click here for a flashback on 5 Bad Habits that Lead to Weight Gain)
For health care providers, it can be frustrating to check in with a patient and hear that their diet or exercise plan isn’t going so well. But it can also help to understand how habits form so you can not only help set realistic expectations for your patient, but also for yourself.
Studies on habit formation have shown that habits form as part of a three-step process. First, there’s a cue, or trigger, that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and let a behavior unfold (i.e. hunger). Then, there’s the routine, which is the actual behavior that we associate as being the “bad habit.” The third step is the reward: Something that your brain likes that helps it remember the “habit loop” in the future. In the case of overweight patients, the pleasure of enjoying “off-limits” food can be their reward. (Learn more about this physiological pleasure connection for those suffering from food addiction in our free white paper.)
Neuroscience has shown that habitual behavior and conscious decision-making are handled by two different parts of the brain, and the area of the brain that controls habits can often supersede and shut down the decision-making area. So when patients revert back to old habits, it is not that they are just battling low motivation or self-control. Their brains are hardwired to return to the behavior that it is used to, even when they no longer benefit from it.
So what can health care providers do?
First off, be patient with your patients. It’s not that they are less committed to their goals; for many it can just be that they require a little more time to relearn healthier habits. Studies show that it can take anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit. And there will be trips along the way.
Secondly, don’t stress too much about when they mess up. Researchers have found that “missing one opportunity to perform the behavior did not materially affect the habit formation process.” In other words, it doesn’t matter if you mess up every now and then. Reassure your patients that an occasional binge is not the end of the world and encourage them to get back on the horse.
Third, understand that old habits are not forgotten, but replaced with new ones. We can’t magically expect patients to stop a damaging behavior without providing an easier alternative. For overweight people who have an unhealthy relationship with food, there can be a benefit to introducing something like meal replacements. Rather than expecting patients to completely change how they relate to food, they can replace their normal food habits with an easy shake or bar and make it part of a new routine that is easier to implement.
Dr. Valerie Sutherland of Rainier Medical Weight Loss and Wellness notes, “[Patients] typically report that taking food away for a period made a huge difference, even if only for a month. Since food can be addictive for some people, taking it away completely can be crucial for long term change, which is the opposite eﬀect that you may be warned about by some critics of a short term rapid weight loss program that is ‘unsustainable.’”
For a more help on helping patients set realistic goals they can stick with, instantly download our free Short Term Goal Helper Worksheet!
Sources: NPR, MIT News, HuffPost
Blog written by Vanessa Ramalho/Robard Corporation
Social Media still remains all the craze today, with participation in every segment of society and every industry around the world, across all ages and professions. In the U.S., the proportion of adults using social media has increased from eight percent to 72 percent since 2005. Health care professionals are not exempt from the perception that if you do not have a social media presence, you are assumed to be behind the times.
For some who don’t feel as internet savvy as others, social media may seem daunting and not worth the effort. But studies have been increasingly showing that social media can cost effectively boost your health outcomes, patient retention, thought leadership, reputation, and even support your bottom line.
Today, social media is about more than just engagement; it is a business imperative. Studies have shown that the use of social media can greatly enhance the image and visibility of a medical center or hospital. In one study, 57 percent of consumers said that a hospital’s social media presence would strongly influence their choice regarding where to go for services. A strong social media presence was also interpreted by 81 percent of consumers as being an indication that a hospital offers cutting-edge technologies. In another study, 12.5 percent of surveyed health care organizations reported having successfully attracted new patients through the use of social media.
Health care providers can use social media to potentially improve health outcomes, develop a professional network, increase personal awareness of news and discoveries, motivate patients, and provide health information to the community. There are simple solutions to getting started that don’t even require you to take the time to develop all original content. (For example, speak to Robard staff about how you can embed the Robard blog directly into your website and take advantage of up-to-date news about health and weight loss.)
However, at the same time, it is a tool that should be used wisely, and be advised by best practices. Always be sure to develop employee guidelines and organizational policies that protect safety and security of patient information, patient consent, employment practices, physician credentialing and licensure, HCP–patient boundaries, and other ethical issues.
Social media isn’t difficult, but it does require some thought. Luckily, Robard has already done a lot of that for you. Download our guide of some basic Social Media Tips to get you started in the right direction. We offer marketing tips like this as part of Business Growth Training, a complimentary service we provide exclusively to Robard customers. Check it out and start growing your social media presence today!
If you want more in-depth social media assistance, or to learn about our other Marketing and Business Growth services, contact us at 800.222.9201 or click here.
Sources: Ventola, C. L. (2014). Social Media and Health Care Professionals: Benefits, Risks, and Best Practices. Pharmacy and Therapeutics, 39(7), 491–520.
Blog written by Vanessa Ramalho/Robard Corporation
“You can make $20 per stool sample?” You would have thought I had won the jackpot! I just thought my colleagues and I were getting one over on the “Diarrhea Clinic” in Guadalajara, Mexico. I attended medical school there and was making a habit of “donating” regularly. What I did not realize was that I wasn’t just suffering from “Montezuma’s Revenge.” It wasn’t until I returned home that I learned I had Crohn’s Colitis, an often debilitating inflammatory condition of the GI tract characterized by abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding. It can often result in multiple surgeries to remove diseased colon and worse, colon cancer.
I spent the next several years on different medications including monthly infusions and weekly injections, all of which had many side effects. During my residency, I spent 10 days in the hospital due to a flare that resulted in over 20 abnormal stools per day, anemia, and almost constant pain. Despite this, I returned to my career determined to not let this disease slow me down.
I became a family doctor and practiced in the primary care setting for nine years. During that time, I discovered a passion for bariatric medicine. This evolved out of a desire to keep myself healthy which required changes in my diet. I found that eliminating processed foods and added sugars, except those naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables, helped me to keep my colitis at bay. With the help of an excellent gastroenterologist, I healed and continued to enjoy excellent health for many years. However, this hasn’t always been easy and this is where bariatrics comes back into the picture.
Taking care of myself every moment of every day requires a lot of work. It means pushing myself to exercise even when I am exhausted. It requires eating salads and protein when others are enjoying pizza or ice cream. It requires actively engaging in positive thinking and using tools like meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy and affirmations to manage stress levels. And I don’t always feel like doing these things. These are exactly the same challenges that, on a day to day basis, my bariatric patients experience.
I find that using these tools myself adds an additional layer of empathy and relatability to counseling my patients that otherwise wouldn’t be there. They often greatly appreciate this and find that I am able to help in a very unique way because I “get it.” I share my story with patients because when a doctor is able to be vulnerable, they realize they are not alone and that anything is possible.
Every day, I continue to discover new and powerful ways to care for myself, mind, body, and spirit. As my practice continues to evolve, I incorporate as many of these amazing modalities as possible. I hired a mind-body medicine physician to teach yoga, meditation and other skills who has inspired many of my patients. I have a behavioral counselor who keeps us all on track. But most of all, my patients, staff and I are all just trying to be the best version of ourselves on this human journey. I still struggle regularly — as do my patients — but we all have found better ways to be in this world. And because of that, I have found this work far more gratifying than anything I could have imagined and I believe my patients are better for it.
The idea of obesity is a difficult subject to broach on many levels. The term itself is loaded with stigma, and people who suffer from this condition can become resistant to even hearing the word, let alone talk about it. The shame and anticipation of judgement can be disabling, and yet the language we use when discussing weight is so limited. What can health practitioners do to break down the wall?
In a study published in a 2012 issue of the journal Obesity, researchers asked 390 obese adults in primary care settings in the Philadelphia area to complete a questionnaire about the terms that are most and least acceptable to describe excess body weight. Out of the 11 terms that were offered, “fatness” was rated as the most undesirable, followed by “excess fat,” “large size,” “obesity” and “heaviness.” (The most preferred terms were simply “weight,” “BMI,” “weight problem” or “excess weight.”)
These words encompass the majority of terminology currently used in health care to describe excess weight. But in an effort to change how physicians and patients engage with the topic of obesity, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, or AACE, and the American College of Endocrinology, or ACE, have proposed a new diagnostic term to describe obesity: Adiposity-Based Chronic Disease, also known as ABCD.
“Right now, obesity is relegated to a simple construct of having a [body mass index] over 30,” says co-author Dr. Jeffrey Mechanick, a professor of medicine and medical director of the Kravis Center for Cardiovascular Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and past president of AACE. “But the word obesity doesn’t confer sufficient information about the disease risks.” ABCD on the other hand, focuses on a complications-centric approach to diagnosing, categorizing, and treating overweight.
The categorization takes into account a number of measures. In addition to BMI, this new system also takes into account the person’s waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, fat identified on advanced body imaging techniques such as ultrasound and MRI, and perhaps inflammatory markers on blood tests. The proposed model also includes three distinct stages:
Stage 0: The person is carrying excess weight but doesn’t have health complications from it.
Stage 1: The person is experiencing mild to moderate complications — such as prediabetes or slightly elevated blood pressure — due to excess body weight.
Stage 2: The person has more severe complications – such as type 2 diabetes or significantly high blood pressure – that are related to carrying excess weight.
What category a patient falls into would inform treatment, and would also increase the likelihood that a physician would focus on treating not just weight related complications, but also the excess body weight itself.
This new model will hopefully not only create a less biased way for physicians to engage with patients about their weight; it will also hopefully be a way for weight loss treatments to be more readily covered through insurance by having this new diagnostic term being incorporated into the medical coding structure — such as the ICD-10, or the International Classification of Diseases.
How we talk about obesity matters. And perhaps a better way to talk about obesity is to not talk about “obesity.” Not in the way people are used to hearing anyway. What are your thoughts?
Source: U.S. News
Blog written by Vanessa Ramalho/Robard Corporation
Good news: Medical providers are finally starting to address obesity and its impact on their patients’ overall health. Bad news: Without a standard to look to for how to discuss weight with their patients and what the best treatment options may be, providers run the risk of fat shaming their patients, leading to unintended negative effects.
A review of recent research presented at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association looked at how unconscious bias against overweight patients can impact how physicians interact with them about their weight, leading to increased stress for the patient. This stress, combined with feelings of shame, can cause patients to delay treatment and even avoid interacting with health care providers altogether. While providers always mean well, the way in which patients are approached about their weight can make all the difference when it comes to discussing medical concerns with sensitivity.
With obesity only recently being identified as a disease — with links to more than 20 chronic conditions (and growing) that are still being researched — it’s hard to know the best way to proceed with overweight patients without a standard and clear medical protocols to refer to as guidance. You’ve taken the step in acknowledging the importance of addressing obesity with your patients, but where do you go from here?
First off, it is important to acknowledge that no one is the expert at everything. If obesity treatment is not something you have focused on in the past, there can naturally be a learning curve as far as how to discuss it with your patients, and how to move forward with treatment. Working with an experienced partner in weight loss can not only save you time, but it can also help you provide the highest quality care.
We invite you to begin learning about how to speak with your patients about their weight with our complimentary webcast, How to Speak to Patients About Obesity. Learn directly from other doctors and peers in the field about what works, so that you can continue to elevate your standard of care while saving yourself and your patients both time and money.
Good news: If you’ve committed to providing the best care to your patients by choosing to treat obesity, you’re not alone. And we’re here to help.
Source: Science Daily
Blog written by Vanessa Ramalho/Robard Corporation
Getting healthy and losing weight is not an easy endeavor — especially, if you are not following a mental diet. So much energy and focus tends to go into the physical components of weight management, but the mental aspects are just as vital. I would like to propose a “Mental Diet” to go along with the physical aspects of weight management.
The morning can be a critical compass to direct your focus for the day. Even if you are not a “morning person” that is full of energy, it is important is to start your day off with intention. This means that you will set aside time for self-care before too many responsibilities or distractions consume your morning. The morning is actually the best time for exercise or meditation, even if it is for five minutes, as you will have less excuses/distractions and more “willpower” in the morning. As the day progresses, we deplete our “willpower tank” which tends to result in an inability to tackle difficult tasks in the evening. So, the ingredients for a good mental breakfast include: At least five minutes of exercise or meditation, self-focus, gain insight and perspective on the day and start the day after taking care of yourself first.
It is important that you schedule time to break for lunch. If you are the type of person that gets busy and easily distracted, you will want to set an alarm to remind yourself to take a break. We are such as fast-paced society that we may not pay attention to how much and how fast we are eating. It’s not uncommon for people to engage in “mindless” eating while sitting at their desk, in front of the TV or driving — suddenly you realize that the food is gone and you have not paid attention to satiety. Instead of just go through the motions of putting food in your mouth, focus on eating slowly and truly paying attention to each bite and monitoring how we feel. The ingredients for a healthy mental lunch include: 15-30 minutes to recharge by refueling with a calm, mindful meal or shake.
You need to have a moment to digest the day. It is important to recognize that “emotional eating” and cravings may increase toward the end of the day. Unfortunately, you may have used most of the energy from your “willpower tank” and begin to want sweets or snacks after dinner. After a long day, “rewarding” yourself with unhealthy foods may sound like the perfect way to unwind. However, indulging in unhealthy foods will only leave you craving more and potentially feeling guilt and remorse. Instead of trying to “eat” your emotions, talk it out or journal your thoughts and feelings. As you prepare for sleep, limit your time with “screens” such as TV, phones and computers and start to focus on relaxation. So the healthy mental dinner includes: Reduce the mental weight of the day by writing down three things that went well for the day and if there is anything that you might need to do for the following day.
Behavioral change and extensive patient education materials are interwoven into all of Robard’s weight loss programs. If you’re a medical provider and would like more information, click here.
Blog written by Devin Vicknair, Ph.D., LPC, Behavioral Health Coordinator at Gwinnett Medical Center: Center for Weight Management.
Why should a busy healthcare provider take time out of their day to treat obesity when their patients are dealing with so many other health issues? This seems to be the prevailing question among many providers, despite obesity’s 2013 designation as a disease. There are so many other diseases and ailments that need to be treated, so why obesity?
The answer: Because we can’t afford not to! And that applies to time, money and the health of your patients.
It’s true that chronic diseases suck up the majority of healthcare resources; 75 percent of all health care costs are linked to chronic conditions. People with chronic conditions are the most frequent users of health care in the U.S., and they account for 81 percent of hospital admissions; 91 percent of all prescriptions filled; and 76 percent of all physician visits. Chronic disease is widespread, and it’s only getting worse. By 2025, chronic diseases will affect an estimated 164 million Americans — nearly half (49 percent) of the population
In response to the growing concern over chronic disease, many healthcare providers and hospitals are investing thousands of dollars in resources and time to implement multi-level treatment plans targeting chronic conditions. But the question many advocates are forgetting to ask is: What is one of the most common links between many chronic conditions?
The answer: OBESITY.
Obesity is associated with significantly increased risk of more than 20 chronic diseases and health conditions that cause devastating consequences and increased mortality. Consider the following statistics:
• In the often-cited Framingham Offspring Study, obesity was responsible for 78 percent of cases of hypertension in men and 64 percent in women
• The well-known Nurses’ Health Study of more than 44,000 women found high waist circumference resulted in a two-fold increase in coronary heart disease
• More than 85 percent of people who have type 2 diabetes are overweight, and more than 50 percent are obese
• Overweight and obesity are associated with increased mortality from diabetes and kidney disease, resulting in over 60,000 excess deaths per year
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Obesity, in many cases, is the direct cause of many of the chronic conditions that we are spending so much time and money treating. Many of these conditions can be prevented, delayed, or alleviated by simply treating the cause, not just the symptoms. Research shows that modest weight loss (five to 10 percent of body weight) can reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions dramatically, and this amount of weight loss is achievable through various evidence-based medical obesity treatment models.
Not only can obesity treatment save physicians time and money by decreasing healthcare costs associated with comorbid chronic conditions, it has also been shown to be a proven revenue generating model, with real financial benefits. In a climate when we’re unsure about where we will stand with insurance and Medicare, it is imperative for healthcare providers to proactively look for new and innovative models to save time and money, and ultimately, to save lives.
Are you still asking yourself, “Why treat obesity?”
Sources: Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, Hospitals & Health Networks, Stop Obesity Alliance
Blog written by Vanessa Ramalho/Robard Corporation