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Nearly 42% of American adults have obesity. According to WebMD  Obesity is a chronic condition, that is progressive and oftentimes relapsing. Obesity is determined by your body mass index (BMI), which refers to excess body fat. A BMI is calculated by using your height and weight on the BMI chart. Severe obesity is defined by a BMI of 40 or greater. Which increases the risk of other chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. Losing weight directly improves health outcomes. A review from the Mayo Clinic found that “maintaining weight loss of 5% to 10% for 1 or more years is associated with improvements in major risk factors.”

Along with a healthy and clinically monitored routine of diet and exercise, counseling is a successful way to promote weight loss. The same Mayo Clinic review also found that “patients receiving behavioral counseling lost more than 8% of body weight during the first year and, at year 8, 50% of patients maintained a 5% or more loss.”

Virtual primary care is a digital-first model that provides clinically competent counseling and hands-on weight-loss treatments with convenient and comfortable virtual visits for patients to engage with their doctors, here’s how:

Removing Stigma

Sometimes patients who are obese do not seek medical care because of the in-person office setting. The Mayo Clinic review states, “Many people with obesity feel stigmatized and unwelcome in the clinic [because] waiting room furniture, weighing scales or examination tables are of insufficient capacity for heavier patients.” Virtual primary care overcomes this barrier by allowing patients with obesity to receive care in a more comfortable setting of their choosing.

More Time with Doctors for Unique Treatment Plans

Doctors themselves often do not properly counsel patients who are obese and need to lose weight. Physician barriers include limited time, shortage of resources and inadequate reimbursement. Historic fee-for-service payment encourages doctors to see patients as quickly as possible, contributing to these barriers. With virtual primary care, patients spend more time with their doctors to ensure the right treatment plans are identified. The patient’s experience is improved with hands-on, value-based care.

Little-to-No-Cost Care

Virtual primary care is key to removing cost barriers. Offered as part of employer-sponsored benefits packages, virtual primary care is little-to-no-cost for patients and their family members. Patients can have more frequent visits at no cost to them. Virtual primary care practices arranged in this way are financially aligned to spend the time necessary to counsel patients on weight loss. Plus, virtual visits do not incur claims.

Convenient, More Frequent Visits

Another barrier to effective weight-loss counseling is the frequent visits necessary to achieve results. Guidelines recommend that initial counseling should be weekly or biweekly, followed by monthly counseling sessions for 6 months, followed by less frequent long-term maintenance counseling. Asking a patient to come to a doctor’s office that frequently is unrealistic.

With the convenience of virtual visits, virtual primary care makes it easier to accomplish such frequent visits since it eliminates travel time, travel expense, the need to arrange for childcare, the need to take off from work and time wasted in an office waiting room.

First Stop Health Virtual Primary Care

Virtual Primary Care is a powerful way to put these evidence-based approaches into practice. Phone and video conversations in Virtual Primary Care facilitate shared decision making between doctor and patient by reducing the time and space barriers to patient communication. Patients have more frequent, longer visits (35 minutes on average), keeping them engaged in their healthcare journey to ensure they are on track with their weight-loss journey.

Tired of trying to figure out a complex healthcare system? Virtual primary care from The Alliance Benefits makes it simple to get care from a personal doctor. Here’s how easy it is to use!

  1.  Step 1.  Create your Account it just takes a minute. no paperwork required.
  2. Step 2.  Schedule a visit on the mobile app or at It just takes 2 minutes to answer a few questions and choose your doctor.
  3. Step 3. See your new doctor. It’s that easy! On average, our patients see their new primary care doctor within 4 days of scheduling. No long wait time.

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First Stop Health, our telemedicine service available to Alliance health plan participants, provides 24/7 virtual treatment and care from U.S.-based and licensed physicians for various health concerns. From the flu to a bug bite, First Stop Health is just a click away, saves participants health-care dollars, and provides top-notch service. They believe access to health care should be convenient, affordable, and transparent.