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Voices of Veritas: The First Step to Recovery is Knowledge—Is it an Eating Disorder or Something Else? 

Anna Tanner, MD, FAAP, FSAHM, CEDS, Vice President of Medical Services

Our 2020 Voices of Veritas series features thought leaders and subject matter experts at Veritas Collaborative who are leading the conversation about eating disorders. These industry experts are continuing our vision to create a world in which all persons with eating disorders and their families have access to quality care and hope for a cure. 

This month, we are highlighting Anna Tanner, MD, FAAP, FSAHM, CEDS, and the important work happening at our Multidisciplinary Eating Disorder (MED) Assessment Clinics. As Vice President of Medical Services and a Certified Eating Disorders Specialist, Dr. Tanner oversees the programming at our MED Assessment Clinics in North Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia.

Is it an eating disorder or something else?

For over twenty years, Dr. Tanner has been greeted by new patients and their families who are struggling with the question, “Is this an eating disorder?”. It’s a straightforward yet complicated question that requires a multi-faceted answer to determine the best next steps. In an ideal world, new patients and their families can quickly progress from initial inquiry to diagnosis and understanding to taking that first step toward recovery. That’s the outcome Dr. Tanner works hard to achieve because it’s one she rarely saw in her past practices.

Prior to her work at Veritas Collaborative, Dr. Tanner was involved in academic medicine and private practice, where she found the process of putting together a multidisciplinary team to assess and collect information about new patients with disordered eating concerns to be slow and cumbersome. For patients and their families, this often meant scattered appointments, missed school, frequent drives across town, and a delay in diagnosis.

“We lost time,” she said. “It would often take weeks for someone struggling with symptoms of an eating disorder to see a therapist and dietitian. It took time to schedule an EKG and get labs done and back to review. Meanwhile, the disordered eating would continue.”

We are dreamers. We are doers. We take action.

Dr. Tanner is an essential member of our leadership team—and a well-known doer. Three years ago, she spearheaded the opening of the first Veritas Collaborative Assessment Clinic located in Atlanta, Georgia. She created the space for a more accessible and efficient process for diagnosing eating disorders that allows patients to access the care they need quickly. Research has shown that providing this level of assessment by highly qualified practitioners and allowing individuals to access care sooner has a significant impact on patient outcomes. This is particularly true in children and adolescents for whom some of the medical complications of eating disorders are irreversible.

Although Dr. Tanner and the Veritas team see individuals in our MED Assessment Clinics who are ultimately given non-eating disorder diagnoses, there are multiple others whose concerns and behaviors do indicate an eating disorder. According to Dr. Tanner, these comprehensive in-person assessments allow individuals and their families to access the support and expertise needed to move forward with the right level of care.

“I am a tremendous believer in the value of knowledge. Helping patients and families understand these illnesses and providing access to the right level of care at the right time to improve outcomes. Every day I see patients getting better. Getting there is hard work, but with the right help, patients can—and do recover.”

What to expect during a MED Assessment

According to Dr. Tanner, the multidisciplinary teams at our MED Assessment Clinics start with no assumptions when they meet a new patient. Instead, they ask questions and listen. Whether a patient has already been diagnosed with an eating disorder or is earlier in the process, determining the severity of psychological, nutritional, and medical symptoms is a critical component in the construction of an individualized care plan. Through in-person, comprehensive assessments, we can not only detect but anticipate issues that may develop in treatment and formulate a medically-based strategy for support.

For Dr. Tanner, her work in the field of eating disorders treatment is a source of both purpose and pride.

“One of the greatest privileges of my medical career has been to work with patients with eating disorders and their families,” she said. “At the first visit, I tell every family that we are here to support them with whatever is needed to get all the way well—from this day forward.”

Together, we are stronger. Contact us today if you need answers about the symptoms you or a loved one may be experiencing. Our team of eating disorders experts can provide the insights needed to begin the journey of recovery.