New Center Concentrates Efforts in Obesity Management

Enterprise Weight Management Center to improve access + patient experience

Female patient being weighed

Cleveland Clinic is launching an Enterprise Weight Management Center in early 2019 to combat one of our country’s most daunting chronic diseases. According to The Center for Disease Control (CDC), obesity affects 93.3 million people in the U.S., with minorities and low-income populations at highest risk.

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“Our goal is to deliver clinically meaningful health and quality of life outcomes for our patients, become a stronger partner and resource within our own at-risk community, and ultimately become a national leader for the prevention and treatment of obesity,” says Vice Chair for Psychology, Leslie J. Heinberg, PhD, who was appointed to spearhead the system-wide weight management initiative in November 2018.

Why this level of commitment is needed

“We think we have a responsibility to reduce obesity and obesity-related medical conditions like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer,” Dr. Heinberg says. “Our strategy is to treat and prevent the disease by connecting patients and their primary and specialty care providers with comprehensive, interdisciplinary, evidence-based care.”

Cleveland Clinic is a large enterprise with many entry points for patients who seek help for their obesity, explains Dr. Heinberg. “We recognized a need to bring more consistency and continuity to weight management and facilitate a single point of entry for patients and referring physicians seeking weight management care or counsel,” she says. “By centralizing our services, our patients will not only have better outcomes, but a better patient experience.”

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Potential to make a huge impact

This new center, which Dr. Heinberg will direct, has the potential to touch every clinical area of the enterprise and is expected to have a positive effect on many thousands of patients. “We want all Cleveland Clinic patients to experience a sensitive assessment and conversation about their individual weight management goals and the impact that weight loss (or gain) would have on their individual health,” Dr. Heinberg says. “Patients need easy access to services that are empirically demonstrated, impactful and measurable, while also being close to home.

“Even if patients cannot lose a large amount of weight, they can still make significant changes to their health and quality of life,” says Dr. Heinberg. “They can reduce their hypertension, their hyperlipidemia, their absenteeism, and so on.”

Research, education and training will be key, according to Dr. Heinberg. “We plan to expand best practices within and beyond the enterprise,” she says.  “For patients who may not yet be obese but are on a trajectory towards obesity or who are overweight, we want to offer more simplistic care paths and interventions that primary care can facilitate.”