For years, medical professionals have been looking at the possibility of delivering quality, effective healthcare services over the phone and internet. When we founded Virtual Health Partners, we knew there were studies indicating the wide range of benefits a comprehensive nutrition, fitness, and behavioral health platform could provide. One of the studies was from Standard University, in 2011.
Researchers at Stanford wondered if a group of people could lose weight effectively with coaching provided online and over the phone, without a physical in-person component. They recruited approximately 400 men with obesity, who also had a cardiovascular risk factor. These men were broken into 3 study groups.
- The first group had phone, internet, and in person coaching.
- The second group had phone and internet, but no in person component.
- The third group had no coaching, and served as the control.
After 24 months, the results showed that the participants who received coaching (the first and second groups) lost close to the same average amount of weight. Both those groups lost substantially more weight – an average of more than 10 pounds per person – than the group that received no coaching. That group without coaching lost an average of 1.8 pounds per person.
In their study the authors said, “The effectiveness of remote support is particularly noteworthy because of the flexibility it offers to both participants and coaches and because it is scalable.” At VHP, we offer this flexibility and scalability to both patients and the practices we work with. The researchers also pointed out that although this study was specific to weight loss, the success of remote coaching has wider implications: “The paradigm of remote counseling, reinforcement of patient change by PCPs, and use of a Web site with portals for patients, counselors, and physicians could improve the management of other chronic conditions.” We share this belief, and our platform is now used across multiple specialties including gastroenterology, plastic surgeons, and fertility.