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Physicians Gain In Weight Loss Clinics

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, August 4, 2011

William Urquhart, MD, delivered hundreds of babies in three decades as an obstetrician and gynecologist. A few years ago, he said bye-bye to the babies, and now he’s counting calories for patients. As the owner of a weight loss franchise, he’s a happy man.

No more weekends. No more nights. No more lousy reimbursements. Not as much paperwork. He misses the babies, but at age 59, the longtime Mobile, AL, physician has more time to see his own grandkids.

As the obesity epidemic balloons, physicians like Urquhart are reducing their regular practices, or leaving them altogether, to open money-making weight loss clinics. By getting involved in these weight loss clinics, physicians are seeing the revenue pile up to replace the lost revenue stream of other practices.

Urquhart opened a franchise of the Medi-Weightloss Clinic in Mobile, and has partnered with other physicians to open seven other clinics. He says he is having financial success beyond his “wildest dreams” and says he’s happily seeing changes in his patients as a result of the weight loss programs.

“My patients, I remember when they were thinner and more active, and they were chasing their little kids, and now they are huffing and puffing,” Urquhart says. “We’re trying to help them.”

A major pitch for these weight loss clinics is that they are “doctor supervised.”

There is definitely some irony here. While many weight loss clinics are marketing that physician connection, many doctors in general practice seem not to know what they are doing when it comes to dealing with patients having weight issues.

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