|What did that study show?|
A New England Journal of Medicine editorial accompanying the POWER article points out that there may have been an additional factor that explained the results: patient attendance at the in-person counseling sessions dropped off precipitously as the trial progressed (an average of only 2 out of 24 scheduled visits after the seventh month), while the telephonic approach achieved 16 out of 18 scheduled contacts.
The DMCB agrees and suggests this is an additional virtue of remote telephonic disease management. While in-person counseling may have more of an individual impact, it does little good if patients no-show. In contrast, "high volume" telephonic counseling may have more of a population-based effect, because a lower intensity intervention has greater absolute impact if it's delivered to more persons.
NIH scientist Susan Yanovski's editorial falls short on capitalizing on that insight. While it grudgingly points out that POWER shows "PCPs can deliver safe and effective weight-loss interventions in primary care settings," it neglects to mention the two important implications of POWER:
1) non-physician team members acting collaboration with PCPs are an important resource in the national battle against obesity and
2) offering a variety of communication channels increases reach and gives more patients new and effective options to access anti-obesity programs.