A new study from the December Journal of Internal Medicine found that if patients were asked about their exercise habits by a health care provider, they lost more weight and improved blood sugar control more than those who weren’t asked.
Data on nearly 700,000 adults and their 1.5 million visits to health care centers between April 2010 and October 2011 found statistically significant health improvements among those who were asked about their exercise habits during the visit. Overweight patients dropped an average of 0.2 pounds more than those who were not asked, while those with diabetes experienced a 0.1% greater reduction in their HbA1c levels.
And those improvements all stemmed from providers’ questions about exercise habits during the visit.
What would happen if those providers were able to reach out more frequently in between visits to offer encouragement to patients regarding their exercise routines? If rather than waiting for the patient’s visit, providers proactively connected with patients to offer support by introducing telephone health coaching, healthy lifestyle programs and more?
Richard Grant, MD, a research scientist with Kaiser Permanente, says:
“Asking these questions about exercise is raising awareness with both the patient and the health care provider. It gets patients thinking about how much they are exercising and reminds physicians to have that conversation with their patients.”
How powerful would it be to connect with patients beyond the exam room, where unlike their scheduled visit, they’re not necessarily already in a healthcare mindset?
A quick notification (even something as a simple as a text message) is a great way to pose these powerful questions to a patient. It’s an effective method for reminding patients of the importance of exercise within a busy daily routine.