John Hernried, MD, FACP (pictured, above), provides some
insights into what it’s like to dedicate a medical practice to treating
weight loss exclusively, and how an obesity conference is an opportunity
to learn the business as well as earn continuing medical education
credits in the process.
In recent years, there has been a confluence of factors that has made
the business of treating obesity attractive to the medical community in
the United States.
These factors include: the American Medical Association’s decision to
recognize obesity as a disease in 2013; the statistics claiming
millions of Americans are being classified as overweight or obese; and
the rise of medical modalities to treat obesity including new
medications, bariatric surgeries, and medical diets.
John Hernried, MD, FACP solely treats obesity at his practice, The Hernried Medical Weight Loss Center.
Hernried and his staff take a comprehensive approach that addresses the
whole person including the underlying causes of obesity with a team of
providers that include dietitians, behavioral therapists, nurse
practitioners, and exercise physiologists.
In addition to running a successful weight loss practice, Hernried is the course director of the 2015 Obesity Treatment and Prevention Conference that is going to be held July 23-25 in Baltimore.
Medical conferences such as the Obesity Treatment and Prevention
Conference can be an excellent way for medical providers to learn,
network, and begin a plan to offer medical weight loss in their
practices, according to Hernried.
In this interview, Hernried talks about his medical weight loss
practice as well as discussing why providers should consider attending
the obesity conference this year.
Can you talk about your practice and what you do in terms of treating obesity?
practice is fully focused on treating obesity and the comorbidities
associated with obesity, including disease states such as type 2
diabetes and heart disease. It’s been a practice that has been in
existence for 30 years and I have been associated with the practice for
the last 15 years.
We maintain a multi-disciplinary treatment model with a multiple
provider care team that includes: dietitians, physicians, nurse
practitioners, and exercise specialists. We all work together using
several different treatment modalities, including intensive dietary
therapy, behavioral management, surgery and pharmacological therapy--if
it is indicated.
What made you decide to dedicate your practice to treating obesity?
started off in primary care as an internist working in an office and a
hospital. I came into practice during the "thin era," and I was taught
that people with weight issues were simply lying to us. They were eating
too much, not exercising, or simply being lazy. And yet, I saw the
struggles of these patients including some with unmanaged diabetes,
heart attacks, and other obesity-related health issues. And I would hear
their stories when they came into the clinic, and I knew there had to
be much more to it.
That’s when I started treating obesity as the core medical issue, and
this has helped my patients with their other medical issues. Now,
instead of adding new medications as part of patients’ regimens, I
usually have them reducing their medications. That is a lot more fun for
me when I can tell people to stop taking a medicine.
We now know a lot more about obesity as a complex disease, and this
provides me with a scientific interest in treating the disease. We have
discovered some of the pathways to obesity and subsequently some newer
treatments. For example, an existing diabetes medicine was recently
approved for weight loss.
Can you talk about the importance of treating obesity as it relates to healthcare reform?
the obesity levels in the United States are at epidemic proportions,
and they are not showing signs of improving. It is a huge cost not only
to the healthcare system, but to employers. It has a dramatic effect on
absenteeism in the workplace. One of the things we know is that for
every dollar invested in obesity treatment it results in a four dollar
return of investment in terms of reduced healthcare costs and improved
And of course there is also an immeasurable aspect to treating obesity, which is the improved quality of life for my patients.
Can you talk about the business of obesity? What are the
advantages for medical providers to get into the obesity treatment
We know patients are searching for quality medical
solutions for weight loss, and that patients really trust their medical
providers. We are in an era where practices are increasingly strained in
terms of revenue, and treating obesity can offer a great opportunity
for medical providers to reach out to their own patients to help them
lose weight and augment their practice; it can be a wonderful marriage
between providers and patients.
We also see there is increasing reimbursement for obesity care, which didn’t exist before.
Lastly, there are many good options for weight management treatment,
which include medications, surgery options, and medical diets.
Speaking about the business of obesity, you are the course
director of the 2015 Obesity Treatment and Prevention Conference, which
will be held in Baltimore July 23-25. For those providers who are not
currently treating obesity, but may be interested in doing so, do you
recommend they attend a conference like this one?
this conference is ideal, because we give them an understanding of what
is needed to begin a weight loss business. It also allows them to
network with people who are practicing clinical weight management and
can give them some insights into the business. The conference is less
theoretical and more practical in terms of how to run an obesity
How is this conference different from others?
conference offers something for medical providers at every level. For
those providers who are curious about offering weight management, they
can come away with practical solutions to getting going; it is germane
for those providers who are newer to the obesity business and have a
small weight loss business already and want to learn how to grow their
businesses; and it’s also for experienced providers who have been
treating obesity for years, because this conference offers networking
opportunities and discussions of new weight loss techniques.
There is an academic component to the conference, so continuing education is another important aspect to it.
Ultimately, we are looking to attract the interested clinicians who
want to develop weight loss modalities as part of their practice and
give them the direction they need at whatever stage they are in for
their business development.
Registration is now open for
the 2015 Obesity Treatment and Prevention conference. To register or
find out more information about the conference, click here.
Interview by: John Parkinson, Clinical Content Coordinator, DiabetesCare.net.