Online Doctor Visits Offered To Overweight Kids In Rural Counties

Children struggling with obesity in two rural counties are visiting a Vanderbilt weight management clinic, without the hassle of a long drive.

Doctors and dieticians meet with patients using video chat technology, similar to Skype. , the program’s goal is to create healthy kids no matter the distance.

“Ethan why was it important for you to come in today and talk to some man in the city on a computer?”

Dr. Kyle Brothers questions 13-year-old Ethan Moore. Moore is sitting cross-legged on a green patient table in Perry County, with his dad by his side. Dr. Brothers is staring at them in a large monitor 90 miles away. A camera the size and shape of a soda can is perched on top.

For about two months, this clinic has met with patients in Hardin and Perry Counties using a direct streaming video link.

Ethan also has a monitor so he can see and hear advice on combating his diabetes, cholesterol and extra weight. Brothers is curious if the middle-schooler suffers from teasing by his peers. Ethan says no. His dad Edwin, pipes in.

“This is a corn fed county…”

It’s a corn fed county with hefty teenagers, he says. That’s one reason this telemedicine program began. Rural areas with high obesity rates tend to have limited access to diabetes and weight education. This virtual appointment was a first for Dr. Brothers who likes the concept, but isn’t used to it.

“I’m cautious about it. I don’t know how well we’re engaging it’s hard to pick up on those subtle cues like are we communicating here.”

This program is funded by a Community Health Network grant. Vanderbilt is going to assess the effectiveness of it over the next two months. Depending on what they find, they may expand the program to reach 30 counties.

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