5 Digital Tools Delivering Bariatric Patient Enablement

A female patient has a virtual consultation with her physician as part of a bariatric patient enablement initiative

Are you looking for ways to better enable the bariatric patient journey? 

You have come to the right place. This guide lays out five digital tools that can increase bariatric patient enablement before and after surgery, improve health outcomes, save time and resources, cut back on costs, and boost your revenue.

Modern technologies hold more promise than you might think.

A recent meta-ethnographic systematic review in JMIR mHealth and uHealth – arguably the first of its kind – found that digital and mobile technologies can promote desirable behavioral changes in patients undergoing elective surgery by:

  • Providing motivation and support
  • Improving patient engagement
  • Facilitating peer networking
  • Meeting patients’ individual needs
A chart showing the areas in which digital health technology can help better enable the bariatric patient journey
Image Source httpsmhealthjmirorg202012e19237figure2

Let us explore this in more depth.

Key Takeaways 

  • There is a correlation between patient preparedness and behavioral changes on the one hand and better surgical outcomes on the other.
  • While patients understand the benefits of improved behaviors, lifestyle changes can be difficult to implement without intervention or support. 
  • Healthcare providers do not always offer adequate assistance. Elective care pathways still largely rely on in-person interventions that can be difficult to access due to travel costs, geographical isolation, or psychological barriers. 
  • Digital tools empower you to deliver behavioral change to support and improve bariatric patient enablement remotely without hiring new staff. 

Why Digital Tools Better Enable the Bariatric Patient Journey

The JMIR mHealth and uHealth review above cites a growing body of research pointing to a strong correlation between physical and psychological patient preparedness and pre-and postoperative behavioral changes on the one hand and better surgical outcomes on the other.

Dietary improvements, increased physical activity, and smoking cessation may help:

  • Speed up recovery
  • Reduce the risk of complications
  • Improve tolerance of postsurgical treatments
  • Prevent long-term disease

While patients generally understand the benefits of improved behaviors, they often find it difficult to change what can be lifetime habits without intervention or support

Unfortunately, the support healthcare providers offer is not always up to par. Elective care pathways still largely rely on face-to-face, in-person interventions. These approaches are time- and cost-intensive, depleting the resources of already overburdened practices. 

Other factors such as travel costs and geographical isolation can also negatively affect patient engagement and attendance of pre-and postoperative appointments. 

This is where digital tools come in. Integrating modern technologies into the bariatric patient journey empowers you to deliver behavioral change support remotely without dedicating additional resources or hiring new staff. In turn, this helps improve patient engagement, surgical outcomes, and your bottom line. 

Optimize the Bariatric Patient Journey with These Digital Tools

To better support your patients in their bariatric journeys, consider adding the following technologies to your toolkit:

1. Mobile Apps and Wearable Activity Trackers

There was never a better time to introduce wearable devices and mobile apps into the bariatric patient journey. 

Around 44% of U.S. adults already use health apps, and the national wearable technology market is looking at a 12.5% CAGR in 2021-2028 thanks to growing consumer demand.

Size and CAGR of the U.S. wearable technologies market from 2018 to 2028
Image Source httpswwwgrandviewresearchcomindustry analysiswearable technology market

As patients become more tech-savvy, use this as an opportunity to improve care and encourage them to track their weight loss, physical activity, nutrition, and water intake using digital tools.

According to the JMIR mHealth and uHealth review, this can:

  • Improve communication between providers
  • Facilitate patient connectivity with providers and peers
  • Support remote health monitoring
  • Motivate patients to play an active role in their long-term care

2. Online Forums and Peer-to-Peer Networks

Online forums may be underutilized tools with considerable potential for improving the bariatric patient journey. 

A recent JMIR Perioperative Medicine review notes the links between social support and increased patient enablement, successful long-term weight maintenance, and improved quality of life and argues that online peer-support platforms could help patients by:

  • Managing their expectations of life post-surgery
  • Supporting information-seeking and decision-making
  • Facilitating social and emotional support
  • Enabling connectivity with healthcare providers

Interestingly, the review also notes that some patients reportedly do not see the value in postoperative clinics or are reluctant to talk about their bariatric journey in front of others. Online forums provide like-minded communities where such patients can receive and share information in a safe and judgment-free space.   

3. Digital Food Scales

Postoperative bariatric patients can only have a limited amount of food at a time. However, old habits die hard, and portion sizes and calorie counts can be difficult to eyeball. 

A digital food scale can help ensure patients do not ingest more food than they should. More advanced digital scales can also display helpful nutritional data, such as calorie counts and carbohydrates, fat, protein, fiber, cholesterol, and sodium content.

4. Telemedicine Technology

The authors of the JMIR mHealth and uHealth review also acknowledge the potential of two-way communication technologies to improve the bariatric patient journey. From virtual consultations to emails and secure text messaging, remote communication can help patients feel more reassured, accountable, and motivated to follow pre-and postoperative advice. Other benefits include:

  • Improved information delivery and decision-making
  • Real-time patient monitoring and goal setting
  • Increased access to healthcare providers
  • Provision of individualized advice

Communicating with healthcare professionals from the comfort of their own homes can also enable patients to overcome psychological barriers that prevent them from maximizing face-to-face appointments.

5. Care Automation Platforms

Care automation platforms like Wellbe’s ConnectedCare™ are among the most comprehensive and effective solutions for bariatric journey improvement on the market. 

They provide patients with an easy-to-follow, automated guided workflow that simplifies and organizes the hundreds of steps they need to take before and after surgery into bite-sized to-do items. This helps:

  • Boost patient engagement
  • Ensure patients have the right information at the right time without getting overwhelmed
  • Collect patient feedback and clinical data to create personalized care plans 
  • Optimize communications, automate data entry, and free resources to focus on growing your business

Optimize the Bariatric Patient Journey with Wellbe

The numbers speak for themselves. Bariatric practices that switch to ConnectedCare™ report:

  • 1,600+ staff hours saved in paperwork
  • 84% patient completion rate of assessment and outcome forms
  • 98% of patients feel prepared for surgery
  • 30% surgical growth rate in the first year

Empower your patients and grow your business with Wellbe