Ferguson says the “real dichotomy is how people view weight as an issue. A lot of people still don’t believe it belongs in a physician’s office.”
Then, there’s the issue of a physician who may have a “difficult time talking to a patient. It could be the way the office visit was structured: If you have six to 10 minutes, and you have four issues to address, it's kind of hard to go into the weight issue.”
But doctors who leave or cut back on practices are finding success by specifically focusing on weight management issues, Urquhart says.
Medi-Weightloss Clinics, basedin Tampa, FL, has 92 weight loss franchises in 22 states. Physicians who buy a franchise either share a roof with their existing practice, or locate it nearby and refer their patients to the cash-based business. Under a physician's care, patients are given a full health consultation and weekly lessons on eating, exercise, and lifestyle change.
Urquhart says he loves seeing the changes in his patients, many of whom he has known for a long time and who have struggled with weight. “If you get someone to lose weight, lower their blood pressure, help prevent diabetes, help with sleep apnea, and just help them feel better and be more active, then you are doing something good,” Urquhart says. “You have to be very passionate about it. You treat your patients well, and you have a nice business model.”
“I’m making a great living, I’m helping my patients lose weight,” he says, and no longer has to “deliver babies anymore at all hours of the night and weekends.”