Objective: To describe a weight-management clinic software system and to report on its preliminary evaluation.
Research methods and procedures: The software system standardizes the collection of relevant patient information from an initial medical assessment, weekly clinic visits, and laboratory testing protocol of a medically supervised proprietary meal-replacement program in a university-based referral clinic. It then generates monthly patient feedback reports with graphs of clinical and laboratory parameters to support a patient-centered approach to weight management. After patients and clinic physicians review the data to ensure accuracy, the database is used for subsequent patient feedback reports, reports to referring physicians, quality assurance, and research. Clinic physicians and referring physicians were asked to rate their acceptance of the system. In addition, in a retrospective analysis of data generated by the system, outcomes for patients who received system-generated feedback (n = 620) were compared with those who participated in the program before the introduction of feedback (n = 130).
Results: Clinic and referring physicians reported that they had high overall satisfaction with the software and that the system saved them time, and the latter group reported that it decreased laboratory use. Regarding patients, the feedback group had lower dropout rates in the latter half of the program, better rates of attendance, completion of laboratory tests, and weight loss after 8 weeks.
Discussion: The software seems to facilitate the effectiveness of the treatment protocol for obesity and generates a high-quality database for patient care, clinic administration, quality assurance, and research purposes.