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The Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality (WCHQ) and Novo Nordisk today announced a multi-year partnership aimed at increasing public awareness of and improving clinical care for patients with obesity.
A national health issue, millions of people in the United States live with obesity. More than 30 percent of people over age 18 in Wisconsin are obese. Obesity is more than just excess weight, it’s about long-term health. People living with obesity are in a constant battle with their biology, where changes in their appetite hormone levels can cause them to gain back the weight they have worked so hard to lose.
The WCHQ-Novo Nordisk partnership combines the strengths of both organizations to create a better system of support, care and treatment for those who are obese. The first year of the project will focus on clinical and patient education. In years two and three, it is anticipated WCHQ will develop and build a set of metrics, with member input, that will assess different aspects of the treatment of people living with obesity. It is expected the data will then be used to guide improvement projects in Wisconsin medical clinics and health systems.
WCHQ President and CEO Gabrielle Rude, PhD, said the project will have a far-reaching impact on how people with obesity are treated clinically and viewed by society.
“Nearly all communities have identified obesity as a top health concern. It is a difficult to address because people are reluctant to ask for help because of the stigma and, sometimes, they just give up,” according to Rude. “Our health systems are highly integrated, which means they can bring not only medical, but also behavioral health services together for our patients. This improves their chances of having a favorable outcome.”
Christopher Weber, MD, is the Bariatric Medical Director for Ascension Wisconsin and a Diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine. Dr. Weber directs Ascension's Comprehensive Bariatric programs at Ascension Columbia St. Mary's Hospital Milwaukee, Ascension Columbia St. Mary's Hospital Ozaukee, and Ascension SE Wisconsin Hospital - Elmbrook campus. These clinics are multidisciplinary programs consisting of surgical and medical providers, dieticians, nurses, physical therapists and psychologists.
“Obesity is a complex disease that is not always well understood in the medical community. It can be caused by factors outside of a person’s control, such as genetics and certain medications. It also increases a patient’s risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and other diseases,” according to Weber. “As practitioners, we are on the front lines as patients struggle with their weight, and we want to help them. This project has the potential to expand our knowledge not just in treating this as a medical condition, but also looking beyond to the behavioral health implications of obesity.”
For nearly two decades, WCHQ has focused on using data and scientific evidence to help its member health systems and medical clinics improve health care quality. Novo Nordisk is a global health care company that has clinical capabilities and educational resources that help people live longer, healthier lives. Their commitment to designing new care management tools and helping clinicians better understand disease will accelerate improvement and lead to longer-term changes in patient care delivery.
Mary Kay Fahey, Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality