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Utilization of EMR to Increase Weight Loss Counseling

Danielle J. Rathjen, South Dakota State University


Purpose: Two out of every three American adults are either overweight or obese (National Center for Health Statistics, 2013). However, the topic often goes unaddressed during office visits. The purpose of this project was to increase the frequency of which health care providers offer weight loss counseling to overweight and obese patients in the clinic setting.
Methods: This project took place in a small, independent clinic in the rural Midwest. The EMR was modified to streamline documentation of weight loss counseling and make counseling trackable. Prior to implementation an educational session was held which highlighted the 5 As of Obesity Management. Medical coders manually tracked weight loss counseling rates for a one month period prior to the intervention for pre-test comparison, while post-test data was retrieved using the EMR’s registry feature.
Results: A comparison of proportions was utilized to analyze the data. Prior to the EMR change and provider education, weight loss counseling was being offered to 7.3% of overweight and obese patients. After the intervention, 21.2% of overweight and obese patients had documented weight loss counseling. This represents a significant increase in weight loss counseling of 13.9% (p<.0001, 95% CI [10.1%, 17.6%].
Conclusions: This project resulted in utilization of the preventative medicine section within the EMR with an increase in weight loss counseling rates. Plans for further development of the preventative medicine tab are being made.