The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) has released an ‘Obesity Practice Guide’, providing gastroenterologists with a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary process to lead safe and effective weight management for obese patients.

The AGA stated how they believe gastroenterologists to be in a unique position to lead a care team for obese patients. The full guide is published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, and also includes a framework for business operational issues related to the management of obese patients.

The authors highlight how gastrointestinal disorders resulting from obesity are more frequent, and often present sooner than type 2 diabetes mellitus or cardiovascular disease, giving gastroenterologists an opportunity to address obesity and provide an effective therapy during early stages. The rationale behind this approach to early treatment is underscored by the fact that obese patients often visit gastroenterology clinics with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and its associated risks. 

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Lead author of the paper Andres Acosta, MD, Mayo Clinic, said the guide was created to “help gastroenterologists develop a multidisciplinary team and obesity care model for their practice, including patient goal setting, readiness assessment, evaluation, and treatment with diet, medication, and bariatric endoscopy and surgery.”

The episode-of-care model was developed to support value-based management of patients with obesity, focusing on the provision of non-surgical and endoscopic services. The framework will help gastroenterology practices assess their ability to participate in and implement an episode of care for obesity, and understand the essentials of coding and billing for these services.

“It is our hope that by working in a team-based approach, gastroenterologists can guide and personalize obesity care for safe and effective weight management for our patients,” said Dr. Acosta.

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