Abstract P160: Cost of In-Person Compared to Call-Center Directed Weight-Loss Interventions in Clinical Practice
Introduction: Treating obesity is a critical health issue. Selecting, implementing and disseminating effective weight loss interventions requires understanding their costs. Our objective was to describe costs of providing two effective weight loss interventions in clinical practice, one delivered with in-person support and one delivered telephonically by a call center, without face-to-face contact between participants and coaches.
Hypothesis: Delivering the weight loss intervention in-person costs more than remotely by telephone.
Methods: We analyzed cost data from the Hopkins POWER Trial, which enrolled obese adults with at least one CVD risk factor from 6 primary care practices. The active interventions were 24 months; one arm provided telephone call-center weight loss support (N=139), and one provided in-person support (n=138). In both, physicians counseled about weight loss during regular visits and participants were asked to track their weight weekly on a website. Both interventions accomplished similar weight loss. Coaches completed logs of activities for 2 weeks every 3 mos. and categorized activities for participant contact time (group or individual sessions) and non-contact (case management, training, administrative time). We calculated average time spent in each category and multiplied by intervention contacts. We based salaries on Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates and physician time on billing codes.
Results: The table shows the distribution of coach labor time and other intervention costs. Estimated cost per participant per year of the intervention was $792.24 for in-person support and $586.91 for call-center.
Conclusions: In this comparison of 2 effective weight loss interventions, in-person was more expensive than call center, in large part due to non-contact costs. In-person appointments may be less efficient than calling participants. The coach supervisor was based at the in-person site and may have increased non-contact time through more meetings and communication with coaches.
- © 2013 by American Heart Association, Inc.