On the heels of a Johns Hopkins study that showed telephone and web-based coaching helps patients lose weight and keep it off, medical faculty and staff are now collaborating with a private health care firm to make the system widely available.
Healthways plans to sell the system called Innergy to insurers, physicians, employers and others who can share it with obese patients. Hopkins will advise the firm on the design and evaluate the program.
The program was created by Dr. Lawrence J. Appel, a professor of medicine. In a study, he found that about 40 percent of obese patients enrolled in the telephone-based weight-loss program lost at least five percent of their body weight, which offers significant health benefits.
Participants got a weekly phone call from health coaches for three months and then monthly calls. They were also encouraged to visit a website that offered weight tracking tools and feedback by email. In person coaching provided similar results.
The study results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Read a Sun story about the study here.
Hopkins officials were interested in the collaboration as a means of using its science to improve health, officials said. They will also collect fees and royalties.
A third of adults are now considered obese and at increased risk for problems including heart disease and diabetes. Obesity is causing some $250 billion a year in health care costs and lost productivity, according to some estimates.