نشر يوم 04. May 2021

Obesity: Telemedicine in the Coronavirus Crisis

The Vivantes Center for Obesity and Metabolic Surgery established a telemedical service as early as March 2020 to be there for its patients during the pandemic.

On the occasion of World Obesity Day on March 4, 2021, the head physician of the center, Prof. Dr. Jürgen Ordemann, reports on experiences with the video consultation.

Especially for people who need longer-term medical consulting and treatment due to chronic diseases, the past months during the pandemic were anything but easy.

What is obesity anyway?

Obesity is a chronic nutritional and metabolic disease. It is defined by an intensified increase in body fat. For the treatment of obesity in Berlin, the Center for Obesity and Metabolic Surgery at Vivantes Spandau Hospital has developed a continuous therapy concept.

Digital consultations since March 2020

Especially patients with obesity who are in the middle of their therapy have many questions and need a lot of support. In addition, it has become apparent over the course of the last few months that people who are significantly overweight are far more likely to develop Covid-19, are more likely to require hospital treatment, and have a higher overall risk of dying with or from Covid-19 than those of normal weight. In order to protect patients and continue to provide them with appropriate care, the Vivantes Obesity Center reacted very quickly to the current challenge of the coronavirus pandemic and already established a digital consultation service in March 2020. In the meantime, up to 150 patients a month receive telemedical advice.

Prof. Dr. Ordemann, how did this online service come about and why is it so important for obese people?

Ordemann: "With the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, we wanted to reduce the number of face-to-face contacts with our patients as much as possible and also significantly reduce the number of patients in the waiting room. With the help of the video consultation, we have succeeded amazingly well. As you rightly pointed out, our obese patients belong to the high-risk group, and as a center we have to be particularly attentive and exemplary."

How are patients responding to the new online consultation?

Ordemann: "Very, very well! After initial skepticism, this medium is now being enthusiastically accepted. We launched our service in March 2020. In the meantime, up to 150 patients a month receive telemedical consultations. In addition, the necessary psychological evaluations and also the nutritional consultations take place at the Center for Nutritional Medicine. What was intended as an emergency solution is now turning out to be an advantage not only for many patients, but also for us as an obesity center."

What advantages does the expansion of consulting service through telemedicine bring, besides the reduced risk of infection?

Ordemann: "Patients suffering from obesity are very often limited in their mobility. Telemedicine helps us to bridge large and small distances well and effectively. Furthermore, many of our patients live in rural areas. Thus, personal dialog and consultation have become uncomplicated and quickly feasible. However, we must also note that telemedicine does not replace personal encounters. However, telemedicine is an excellent tool to make the medical care of patients safer, more comfortable and also less complicated. We are very grateful for that."

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