resources for patients

Established three years ago, the American College of Physicians’ Center for Patient Partnership in Healthcare (CPPH) has a goal of engaging patients, families, and patient organizations in designing patient-centered care delivery and educational materials. Several of the organization’s first projects center around obesity. They include the Make it Happen Weight Loss Guide and additional obesity-related tools that are designed for physicians to share with their patients. Click here to access the portal on the ACP website. Wendy Nickel, CPPH’s director, recently answered questions about this new initiative and how physicians interested in treating patients with obesity can take advantage of the resources provided.

Why is patient education and engagement a topic that is important to the American College of Physicians?

Patient engagement is a topic that is important to the American College of Physicians for two reasons.  First and foremost, ACP has a strong belief that engaging patients in their care is morally and ethically, “the right thing to do”. Patients should be equal partners in care and their goals, beliefs and preferences should be integrated into treatment planning. By providing information and education, patients can be empowered to make choices that are right for them and ultimately result in better outcomes. Education creates a level playing field and provides patients and clinicians with the opportunity to be co-pilots in care. Second, studies have shown that patient education and engagement at the point of care can improve outcomes and quality of care and decrease health care costs and utilization. As an advocate for both clinicians and patients, ACP strongly believes in supporting actions that maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of the healthcare system.

Why is obesity one of the areas that CPPH chose to focus on through patient education?

Internal medicine physicians are more and more likely to treat patients with chronic diseases such as obesity. Additionally, obesity often appears with many other co-morbid conditions that require coordination of care and understanding the whole person. Internal medicine physicians are increasingly serving this role for patients with chronic and long-term needs. Patients with obesity need education and tools that encourage behavior change without judgment or stigma. They also need resources that provide simple action steps that will result in long-term positive impact. The CPPH identified obesity as a high priority area for education due to the prevalence among internal medicine patients and the need to provide simple, appealing, and easy-to-understand information.

How did you create the resources that are available on the topic of obesity?

The content is developed by a team of patients and professionals, including people who have lost weight or are attempting to lose weight, their family, friends and clinicians. The content is heavily influenced by focus groups of patients who share the key concepts of importance to them. Pictures and images used in the resources often feature real people, real homes and real activities. The resources contain summary action plans that provide simple steps for people to follow in order to change lifestyle and behaviors.

How can physicians utilize the obesity resources that CPPH has created?

Physicians can access ACP’s resources at: www.acponline.org/patient_ed/obesity. The most comprehensive resource is ACP’s “Make it Happen! Lose Weight Guide”. This can be downloaded for free in English or Spanish or hard copies can be purchased. Other resources include a one-page patient summary about obesity from the Annals of Internal Medicine, a video about Excess Weight and Health, and an image of a healthy plate. These can be used in individual conversations between physicians and patients or as part of a team visit with other healthcare professionals.