Telehealth interventions could lead to weight loss, lower risk of cardiometabolic disease

Researchers announce study with wearables, tablets for participating patients.

Telehealth videos could be a tool for losing weight and reducing risk of cardiometabolic disease in people aged 50 years and older.

The University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) will use an award of about $3.3 million to lead a multisite clinical trial for more than 1,000 patients that will interact with portals of electronic health records (EHR). Researchers hope to identify effective behavioral interventions and timing of delivery, with patients tracked through wearable devices, wireless scales and using electronic tablets to access the patient portal and telehealth coaching.

The award comes from the National Institute on Aging and UIC will work with Washington University and the University of Pittsburgh to develop the study. UIC announced the program Aug. 1.

“This will be one of the largest clinical trials to test behavioral weight loss interventions that are fully remote and integrated into the electronic health record, which is critically important in real-world health care delivery,” principal investigator Jun Ma, MD, PhD, said in a news release.

Researchers will check EHR for eligibility criteria including height, weight, diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. Participants will be randomized to receive one of two interventions, with a 12-video weight loss program as the base intervention. A trained health coach will use videoconferencing to deliver problem-solving therapy. Based on timing, the study will examine how to tailor treatments based on patients’ early weight loss, said Ma, director of the Vitoux Program on Aging and Prevention at the UIC College of Medicine.

“This innovative adaptive treatment design will help us to understand which patients need which interventions at what time,” Ma said.