While anyone can become infected with COVID-19, it is becoming increasingly clear that some people are more vulnerable to severe illness than others.

The most common risk factor for poor outcomes resulting from COVID-19 is obesity, which affects roughly 4 in 10 Americans. In fact, obesity is the number one risk factor for developing a severe case of COVID-19 for people under 55.

Having a BMI of 30 or higher increases a person’s risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19 by 27%, and a BMI of 40 or higher doubles a person’s risk.

Many people joke about putting on the “Quarantine 15”.  Recent research by WebMD showed that adults in the United States gained an average of 8 pounds since the beginning of the pandemic. That means added risk for even more of the population.

Addressing obesity may be the single most important disease for healthcare providers to address for improving patient outcomes of patients who contract the virus or at risk of contracting the virus.

The medical ancillary sector has many products and services that a clinic can add to help patients address this key risk factor.

These are the top 3 programs currently available in the sector:

Medical Weight Loss with Telemedicine

A well-structured medical weight loss program has proven to help patients lose weight. This program has helped patients lose an average of 11% of their body weight within the first 12 weeks and sustained an average of 12% loss in body weight over a 24 month period.

This program includes full training, equipment, and software to perform turnkey medical weight loss at the point of care.

The challenge that many healthcare providers have faced in the past is getting patients to come back to the clinic for counseling sessions throughout the year.

One of the silver linings of the pandemic has been the rise in the use of telemedicine platforms. Medical weight loss counseling codes are now billable through telemedicine, improving practice efficiency and increasing patient compliance.

This program does not require downloading any apps and can easily be added to a clinic’s website. Patients are connected to a healthcare provider with a click of a button.

Medical weight loss is a vital service that can be billed as a telemedicine visit. Medical weight loss counseling is a covered service under CMS, private payors, and most State Medicaid programs.

A well-structured medical weight loss program coupled with telemedicine improves patient wellbeing and boosts a patient’s chances of avoiding negative outcomes if they do contract COVID-19.

Osteoarthritis Injections

Over 23M Americas currently suffer from osteoarthritis of the knee, limiting a patient’s mobility and causing chronic pain.

Consequently, patients who suffer become less active, resulting in weight gain.

This osteoarthritis injection protocol is a turnkey program that uses viscosupplementation done under the guidance of fluoroscopy.

This program is designed for primary care physicians and includes all the training and tools necessary to add this to any practice.

Injections are covered by CMS and all major carriers.

92.7% of patients who undergo injections experience significant relief, delaying or avoiding the need for surgery.

Performing this treatment at the primary care level increases patient compliance and leads to better patient outcomes.

Helping a patient regain their mobility is a key factor to help osteoarthritis sufferers become more active and lose weight.

Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)

Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is a technology to enable monitoring of patients outside of conventional clinical settings, aimed at increasing access to care and decreasing healthcare delivery costs.

This service provides continuity of care between patient appointments by tracking physiological patient data remotely, with the data collected and interpreted by compatible electronic devices.

Lack of patient compliance is a well-known source of frustration for physicians, particularly when it comes to people with obesity. Remote patient monitoring can lead to greater patient engagement, which in turn can elevate compliance with physician recommendations, including taking medications as prescribed and making important lifestyle changes.

Patient engagement is only possible when patients take ownership of their health. Approved remote devices like fitness trackers, digital scales and glucometers gives patients a tangible connection to their own health, which has a significant impact on engagement and compliance.

Remote patient monitoring is a covered service for Medicare patients. With this program, clinics can easily provide remote monitoring devices and monitoring to patients. This service includes everything from patient enrollment, provisions of suitable remote management tools, data collection, and patient reminders. This service also aids in compliance and adherence to medications.

If you are interested in adding any of these services to your clinic, contact your Practice Development Manager.