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Why Patient Outreach is Critical to Health Outcomes

If you had a cure to cancer, wouldn’t you inform your patients about it as soon as possible? 

Like cancer, obesity is a leading cause of death in the United States, but unlike cancer, it’s one that is entirely preventable.1 Because obesity is so strongly related to an increased risk of all-cause mortality, weight loss can act as a powerful prevention, and even as something of a cure, for obesity-related chronic disease and mortality. 2 

With this knowledge in hand, how can providers take a proactive approach to their patients’ health and inform them about the “cure” to obesity? 

One way is to focus on patient outreach. According to the HIPAA Privacy Rule (45 CFR 164.501, 164.508(a)(3)), patient outreach includes communications to a patient that provide treatment advice and/or general education about their health.  

In other words, patient outreach is NOT marketing, which involves communications that encourage patients to purchase or use a product or service and requires authorization from the patient. 3   

Instead, patient outreach is a proactive approach to engaging with your patients. It extends the provision of care beyond your office, allowing you to inform and educate them on their health and wellness at any time – not just when they’re at an appointment. Patient outreach also allows you to provide care more comprehensively, leading to better healthcare quality and better outcomes. 

The key to successful patient outreach is that providers must be proactive, rather than reactive, in managing their patients’ health.  

Currently, most patients think that their providers aren’t doing enough to promote their health before complications arise. According to a survey by West, two-thirds of respondents believed that their provider was more focused on treating illnesses rather than preventing them. 80% also said they would get preventative screenings if they were scheduled by their provider. 

Not only do most patients want more preventative care from their providers, but they also think that a more proactive approach would motivate them to attend to their health and therefore lead to better health outcomes. 

Outreach can be the catalyst patients need to take a more personal stake in their own health that they otherwise wouldn’t. A study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that obese patients lost significantly more weight on average when doctors offered counseling that encouraged engagement in a comprehensive weight loss intervention, rather than simply offering generic advice to “lose weight.” 

In addition to motivation, patients are often inhibited by uncertainty, lack of information, and forgetfulness to fulfill their part in preventative care. Outreach can help them overcome these barriers as well by providing more consistent engagement, education, and daily health reminders outside of the office. 

Obesity is correlated with many chronic conditions and an increased risk of mortality, and weight loss can be the “cure.” Providers can help by adopting a proactive approach to their patients’ health through digital outreach. Proactive outreach and intervention will not only lead to significant improvements in weight loss, but can help patients curb chronic disease, increase the quality of their life, and extend their life longevity.  

Need help? Prescribe FIT offers a retroactive and proactive patient outreach program that can put your patients on the Fast Track to Health™. Contact us today to learn more or get started.

Published on July 27, 2022