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“There’s a lot we can do right now to improve fat people’s lives—to shift our focus for the first time from weight to health and from shame to support.” — Michael Hobbes, "Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong", The Huffington Post
Obesity in America is a complicated issue. Every year, it seems more and more people are affected. In a feature article for The Huffington Post, Michael Hobbes finds that part of the problem is a medical community ignorant of current research, and unwilling or unable to provide the type of care patients truly need.
Short appointment times, a lack of proper training, and an approach short on empathy leave patients without the tools and support they need to get healthy. In other words, the traditional system treats the problem. What needs to happen is a radical shift to focus on behavior change. We don't need to treat the problem. We need to support the person.
On-site clinics that focus on behavior change, offer integrated health coaching services, and promote empathetic listening pave the way for a radical shift in the way we support those struggling with obesity. Let’s take a look at how that’s possible.
“Primary care physicians only get 15 minutes for each appointment, barely enough time to ask patients what they ate today, much less during all the years leading up to it,” says Hobbes. In a traditional healthcare setting, short appointment times leave providers unable to have meaningful discussions with their patients about obesity and restrict the ability for patients and providers to form trusted relationships.
At an on-site clinic, patients have greater access to their providers so they can foster meaningful connections. Providers work alongside their patients to help them achieve their goals, big or small, by creating a road map for behavior change. Changes start small and work toward bigger goals incrementally so that patients have a sustainable path toward better health.
Hobbes found that many providers lacked significant training in diet and nutrition, noting that the average medical school graduate only receives about 19 hours of such training during their 4 years of medical school.
When on-site clinics integrate health coaching, providers and health coaches work together to offer patients personalized care plans that reflect the most up-to-date approaches to dieting and nutrition.
But it can't stop with dieting and nutrition. Health coaches work as allies, setting up a patient for mental and social success by helping them break down their big goals into small, more achievable steps. As patients achieve smaller goals, they feel proud, their confidence increases, and their ability to tackle bigger goals goes up. Rather than judging them, health coaches support them every step of the way, providing the support system they need to feel like they can walk their own path to better health.
What patients need is a healthcare ecosystem with empathetic providers and health coaches who have the time and resources to form meaningful relationships with their patients and develop personalized care plans that work for their health goals. Patients don't need someone telling them what to do. They need collaboration from a team that supports positive behavior change.
“The central failure of the medical system when it comes to obesity is that it treats every patient exactly the same: If you’re fat, lose some weight. If you’re skinny, keep up the good work,” says Hobbes.
Traditional healthcare models are failing those suffering from obesity and other chronic health issues. On-site clinics offer a real alternative. With greater access to providers, better resources through health coaching, and personalized care plans that acknowledge each person’s individuality, on-site clinics are capable of providing patients with the support and care they need to make lasting change.
The best way to treat the obesity epidemic is the same way we need to revamp the entire healthcare industry. We need better care that places more value in the power of behavior change. We need more time with providers and health coaches trained to offer patients treatment that’s as unique as they are. We need to put the patient, not the problem, at the center of our focus and collaborate with them to find a solution that works.
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