Barriers and facilitators in implementing a pilot, pragmatic, telemedicine-delivered healthy lifestyle program for obesity management in a rural, academic obesity clinic

An Amulet-related paper was published recently.

Few evidence-based strategies are specifically tailored for disparity populations such as rural adults. Two-way video-conferencing using telemedicine can potentially surmount geographic barriers that impede participation in high-intensity treatment programs offering frequent visits to clinic facilities. We aimed to understand barriers and facilitators of implementing a telemedicine-delivered tertiary-care, rural academic weight-loss program for the management of obesity. A single-arm study of a 16-week, weight-loss pilot evaluated barriers and facilitators to program participation, exploratory measures of program adoption, and staff confidence in implementation and intervention delivery. A program was delivered using video-conferencing within an existing clinical infrastructure. Elements of the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR) provided a basis for assessing intervention characteristics, inner and outer settings, and individual characteristics using surveys and semi-structured interview. Using CFIR, the intervention was valuable from a patient participant standpoint; staff equally had positive feelings about using telemedicine as useful for patient care. The RE-AIM framework demonstrated limited reach but willingness to adopt was above average. A significant barrier limiting sustainability was physical space for intervention delivery and privacy and dedicated resources for staff. Scheduling stressors were also a challenge in its implementation. The need to engage staff, enhance organizational culture, and increase reach are major factors for rural health obesity clinics to enhance sustainability of using telemedicine for the management of obesity.

John Batsis, Auden C. McClure, Aaron B. Weintraub, Diane Sette, Sivan Rotenberg, Courtney J. Stevens, Diane Gilbert-Diamond, David F. Kotz, Stephen J. Bartels, Summer B. Cook, and Richard I. Rothstein. Barriers and facilitators in implementing a pilot, pragmatic, telemedicine-delivered healthy lifestyle program for obesity management in a rural, academic obesity clinicImplementation Science Communications 1, page Article#83 (9 pages), September 2020. BMC. DOI: 10.1186/s43058-020-00075-9

Feasibility and acceptability of a rural, pragmatic, telemedicine-delivered healthy lifestyle programme

Although not specifically involving the Amulet device, John Batsis and members of the Amulet team published a recent feasibility study involving the use of wearables, like Amulet, in support of health monitoring for older adults.

  • John A. Batsis, Auden C. McClure, Aaron B. Weintraub, David F. Kotz, Sivan Rotenberg, Summer B. Cook, Diane Gilbert-Diamond, Kevin Curtis, Courtney J. Stevens, Diane Sette, and Richard I. Rothstein. Feasibility and acceptability of a rural, pragmatic, telemedicine-delivered healthy lifestyle programmeObesity Science & Practice, 1-10, August 2019. DOI 10.1002/osp4.366.

Abstract: Background: The public health crisis of obesity leads to increasing morbidity that are even more profound in certain populations such as rural adults. Live, two-way video-conferencing is a modality that can potentially surmount geographic barriers and staffing shortages. Methods: Patients from the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Weight and Wellness Center were recruited into a pragmatic, single-arm, nonrandomized study of a remotely delivered 16-week evidence-based healthy lifestyle programme. Patients were provided hardware and appropriate software allowing for remote participation in all sessions, outside of the clinic setting. Our primary outcomes were feasibility and acceptability of the telemedicine intervention, as well as potential effectiveness on anthropometric and functional measures. Results: Of 62 participants approached, we enrolled 37, of which 27 completed at least 75% of the 16-week programme sessions (27% attrition). Mean age was 46.9 +/- 11.6 years (88.9% female), with a mean body mass index of 41.3 +/- 7.1 kg/m2 and mean waist circumference of 120.7 +/- 16.8 cm. Mean patient participant satisfaction regarding the telemedicine approach was favourable (4.48 +/- 0.58 on 1-5 Likert scale–low to high) and 67.6/75 on standardized questionnaire. Mean weight loss at 16 weeks was 2.22 +/- 3.18 kg representing a 2.1% change (P < .001), with a loss in waist circumference of 3.4% (P = .001). Fat mass and visceral fat were significantly lower at 16 weeks (2.9% and 12.5%; both P < .05), with marginal improvement in appendicular skeletal muscle mass (1.7%). In the 30-second sit-to-stand test, a mean improvement of 2.46 stands (P = .005) was observed. Conclusion: A telemedicine-delivered, intensive weight loss intervention is feasible, acceptable, and potentially effective in rural adults seeking weight loss.

Opportunities to Improve a Mobile Obesity Wellness Intervention for Rural Older Adults with Obesity

A qualitative study to determine whether mHealth devices, like Amulet, could be useful in supporting rural-health interventions.

  • John Batsis, Stephen Bartels, Rachel Dokko, Alexandra Zagaria, John Naslund, Elizabeth Carpenter-Song, and David Kotz. Opportunities to Improve a Mobile Obesity Wellness Intervention for Rural Older Adults with Obesity. Journal of Community Health, September 2019. DOI 10.1007/s10900-019-00720-y.

Abstract: Older adults with obesity are at a high risk of decline, particularly in rural areas. Our study objective was to gain insights into how a potential Mobile Health Obesity Wellness Intervention (MOWI) in rural older adults with obesity, consisting of nutrition and exercise sessions, could be helpful to improve physical function. A qualitative methods study was conducted in a rural community, community-based aging center. Four community leaders, 7 clinicians and 29 patient participants underwent focus groups and semi-structured interviews. All participants had a favorable view of MOWI and saw its potential to improve health and create accountability. Participants noted that MOWI could overcome geographic barriers and provided feedback about components that could improve implementation. There was expressed enthusiasm over its potential to improve health. The use of technology in older adults with obesity in rural areas has considerable promise. There is potential that this intervention could potentially extend to distant areas in rural America that can surmount accessibility barriers. If successful, this intervention could potentially alter healthcare delivery by enhancing health promotion in a remote, geographically constrained communities. MOWI has the potential to reach older adults with obesity using novel methods in geographically isolated regions.

Usability evaluation for the Amulet wearable device in rural older adults with obesity

The following paper dates to last year, but is an important publication from the Amulet group:

  • John A. Batsis, Alexandra Zagaria, David F. Kotz, Stephen J. Bartels, George G. Boateng, Patrick O. Proctor, Ryan J. Halter, and Elizabeth A. Carpenter-Song. Usability evaluation for the Amulet wearable device in rural older adults with obesity. Gerontechnology, 17(3):151-159, 2018. DOI 10.4017/gt.2018.

Abstract: Mobile health (mHealth) interventions hold the promise of augmenting existing health promotion interventions. Older adults present unique challenges in advancing new models of health promotion using technology including sensory limitations and less experience with mHealth, underscoring the need for specialized usability testing. We use an open-source mHealth device as a case example for its integration in a newly designed health services intervention. We performed a convergent, parallel mixed-methods study including semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and questionnaires, using purposive sampling of 29 older adults, 4 community leaders, and 7 clinicians in a rural setting. We transcribed the data, developed codes informed by thematic analysis using inductive and deductive methods, and assessed the quantitative data using descriptive statistics. Our results suggest the importance of end-users in user-centered design of mHealth devices and that aesthetics are critically important. The prototype could potentially be feasibly integrated within health behavior interventions. Centralized dashboards were desired by all participants and ecological momentary assessment could be an important part of monitoring. Concerns of mHealth, including the prototype device, include the device’s accuracy, its intrusiveness in daily life and privacy. Formative evaluations are critically important prior to deploying large-scale interventions.

Use of Amulet in behavioral change for geriatric obesity management

John Batsis and the Amulet team just published a paper regarding Use of Amulet in behavioral change for geriatric obesity management.

Background: Obesity in older adults is a significant public health concern. Weight-loss interventions are known to improve physical function but risk the development of sarcopenia. Mobile health devices have the potential to augment existing interventions and, if designed accordingly, could improve one’s physical activity and strength in routine physical activity interventions. Methods and results: We present Amulet, a mobile health device that has the capability of engaging patients in physical activity. The purpose of this article is to discuss the development of applications that are tailored to older adults with obesity, with the intention to engage and improve their health. Conclusions: Using a team-science approach, Amulet has the potential, as an open-source mobile health device, to tailor activity interventions to older adults.

John A. Batsis, Alexandra B. Zagaria, Ryan J. Halter, George G. Boateng, Patrick Proctor, Stephen J. Bartels, and David Kotz. Use of Amulet in behavioral change for geriatric obesity management. Journal of Digital Health, 5, June 2019. DOI 10.1177/2055207619858564.

Technology for Behavioral Change in Rural Older Adults with Obesity

A new paper from the extended Amulet group.

John A. Batsis, John A. Naslund, Alexandra B. Zagaria, David Kotz, Rachel Dokko, Stephen J. Bartels & Elizabeth Carpenter-Song. Technology for Behavioral Change in Rural Older Adults with ObesityJournal of Nutrition in Gerontology and Geriatrics, April 2019.DOI: 10.1080/21551197.2019.1600097

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New grant to apply Amulet to study obesity in elderly people

Dr. John Batsis, DHMCThe Amulet team is collaborating with geriatrician Dr. John Batsis of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center to explore the use of the Amulet in developing intervension methods to help obese elderly people maintain function while they remain living at home.  This “grant … from the National Institute on Aging will allow Dr. John A. Batsis to focus on strategies for improving health care delivery and wellness in older adults with obesity by using video conferencing, personal monitoring devices and frequent coaching by healthcare providers.” [press release]

Check out the video interview with Dr. Batsis on WCAX television.

This research is supported by the National Institute On Aging of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number K23AG051681.