9 Ancillary Services That Can Boost Practice Revenue

Leigh Page


August 07, 2014

In This Article

8. Weight-Loss Services

Every practice has a built-in clientele for weight-loss services. If your patients fit the American profile, you have a lot of candidates. More than two thirds of US adults are overweight and more than one third are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Also, studies show that if your patients shed even a few pounds, they can improve their health status. However, research also shows that disappointingly few PCPs help their patients lose weight, in part because many of them are pessimistic that they will keep it off.

The fact is that well-coordinated weight loss programs can be effective for many patients. Although reimbursements for these programs are not impressive, many patients are willing to pay out of pocket, and very little extra equipment is needed.

Dr. Blakely, the Nebraska rheumatologist, started a weight-loss program 9 years ago. To determine the need, he performed body mass index measurements for a sample of patients and found out that 90% of them were overweight. "That was much higher than I thought it would be," he said. "It really opened my eyes."

After doing a lot of research on weight loss, he set up a standard program that involves examining patients one-on-one about once a month, holding weekly group sessions with them, and providing meal replacements.

The group met after normal clinic hours initially in his waiting room, then later in a separate facility. Dr. Blakely bought a body composition scale showing percentage body fat and a machine to test metabolic rates, mainly to evaluate patients' claims that their fat is really muscle or that they gain weight because they have a very low metabolism.

He reported that 5-20 people sign up in each cohort for the 18-week program. Participants have been losing an average of 52 pounds. Some patients stay on the meal replacement for several weeks longer and lose as much as 100 pounds. An estimated 40% of them have maintained more than one half of their weight loss 2 years after completing the program, he said.


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