SeamlessMD Podcast – Episode 17 – Using Digital Patient Engagement For Bariatric Surgery



In this episode of the SeamlessMD Podcast, Dr. Joshua Liu, Co-founder & CEO at SeamlessMD, and marketing colleague, Alan Sardana, chat with Malvina Ibrahim, RD, MHSc, Patient Education Specialist at SeamlessMD about using digital patient engagement for bariatric surgery. See the full show notes below for details.

Guest(s): Ms. Malvina Ibrahim, RD, MHSc, Patient Education Specialist at SeamlessMD

Dr. Joshua Liu (@joshuapliu), Co-founder & CEO at SeamlessMD

Episode 17 – Show notes:

[02:08] Why successful bariatric patients refer to their surgery as a tool in their toolkit since bariatric surgery is not a magic pill and weight-loss & longevity is a lifelong journey;

[04:20] Why patients need to be dedicated to following protocols and to making lifestyle changes to ensure a successful surgery and weight-loss journey;

[05:02] Why Ms. Ibrahim focuses on adult learning principles and behavior change theory to build a patients’ intrinsic motivation so they can stay dedicated to their journey;

[05:25] How Ms. Ibrahim designs education for goal & relevancy-oriented patients by explaining why and how each task is important to the patient’s end goal;

[06:05] Why education telling a patient to stop using birth control without explaining why is a good example where patients commonly misunderstand that birth control is ineffective after bariatric surgery and will continue using it because they believe ‘it’s more important that I don’t get pregnant’;

[07:35] Why traditional patient education does not cover the underlying reasons why a specific action is necessary due to patient-provider time constraints;

[08:20] Why Ms. Ibrahim breaks all patient education up into bite-sized pieces where a patient can get the most important information upfront and is able to learn more if they would like;

[09:15] How SeamlessMD follows the patient in real-time and automates all of the education delivery via text, email, and app around the patients’ surgery date – for example transitioning a patient from a liquid diet to puréed foods post-operatively, including relevant information such as ‘How to purée foods’, ‘Example recipes that will help you increase the protein in your puréed foods’, What to eat’, ‘What to avoid’, etc.;

[10:20] Why bariatric patients continue to use SeamlessMD years after their surgery for the ongoing education on diet and exercise to help with their lifelong lifestyle change;

[12:00] Why Ms. Ibrahim designs bariatric programs with positive-reinforcement built-in to help patients stay motivated and avoid giving up before qualifying for surgery;

[13:00] How SeamlessMD can either refer patients who are missing a qualification step back to their clinical team for support or can send a notification directly to the clinical team so they can follow-up with the patient;

[14:11] Why Ms. Ibrahim finds designing bariatric digital care plans rewarding because of the positive reinforcement and impact for each individual patient;

[14:30] Why patients report feeling more supported with digital patient engagement even though they know it’s automated because the look and feel of the interaction was so frequent and meaningful to them personally;

[16:50] Why bariatric patients are sometimes enrolled onto SeamlessMD up to 12 months before their surgery to help them to qualify for surgery – sending pre-programmed tasks and reminders for qualifying steps such as pre-op appointments, prehab exercises, pre-op diet, support groups, reminders to attend support group meetings, tips for how to be successful with their weight-loss journey, etc.;

[18:55] How SeamlessMD guides bariatric patients after surgery via the head-to-toe check which provides recommendations based on patient-reported symptoms for things like dumping syndrome, nutrient deficiencies, digestive issues, etc. and how the app tracks medication and supplement compliance as well as protein and liquid intake to mitigate dehydration and muscle  breakdown;

[20:10] Why Ms. Ibrahim incorporates mental health survey questions in the bariatric digital care plans to ensure patient safety and how patients love seeing their progress charts tracking mental health and other self-reported metrics;

[22:04] How SeamlessMD will ask follow-up questions based on specific patient-reported symptoms such as if a patient indicates they’re extremely depressed or anxious, the platform will automatically ask ‘Would you like someone from our hospital’s social services team to reach out to you for further individualized support?’;

[24:00] Why bariatric patients using SeamlessMD love the reminders and helpful tips because they ‘help to stay on track’, patients ‘feel more accountable’ and patients love how thorough the program is, which helps them to avoid phone calls to the clinic/hospital;

[27:00] Fast 5 / Lightning Round:

Q: What is your favorite book?

A: Sentimental value –– “The Thief Lord” by Cornelia Funke.

Q: Who is a person, dead or alive, you’d like to meet?

A: My dad’s parents.

Q: What is your favorite food?

A: Potatoes!

Q: Where is your favorite travel destination?

A: I haven’t been… But my lifelong dream is to go to South Africa and live in a safari for a few days.

Q: What new hobbies/activities/skills have you picked up since COVID-19?

A: Painting!

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