Digital diabetes company Virta is rolling out a slew of new services focused on prediabetes, obesity treatment and provider-led Type 2 diabetes management.
As in its Type 2 diabetes program, patients will be able to use the Continuous Remote Care platform, which gives users access to telehealth and a dedicated health coach. The program also give users personalized nutrition regimen and ways to track food over time.
The company pitches its technology as a way to help reverse Type 2 diabetes, and now related conditions, instead of slowing it. It also proposes to do that without the help of medications.
The term "reversing diabetes" has had its critics, including Livongo’s CEO Glen Tullman, who called the messaging deceptive in previous interviews. However, Virta points to research that demonstrated an averaged lower HbA1c of 1.3% and a weight loss average of 30 pounds from clients using its product.
“Those enrolling in prediabetes reversal and obesity treatment will receive our core reversal treatment, which we know – through both our clinical-trial and commercial populations –delivers life-altering health outcomes that are unmatched elsewhere,” Sami Inkinen, CEO and cofounder of VirtaHealth, wrote in an email to MobiHealthNews.
“Weight loss is a good example. Our patients experience [a] 12% loss in body weight in the first year (and double-digit weight loss is sustained at 2 years). For context, this exceeds the goal of the National Diabetes Prevention Program, the FDA benchmark for weight loss, and the definition of what is considered 'clinically significant' by 2.5x.
"And for diabetes management, we can meet patients where they are on their metabolic journey, while giving them a direct and easy transition to our reversal therapy. This approach is unique to Virta, and allows us to scale our impact.”
With this new announcement, the company is staying in the metabolic health space – a place where Inkinen said the company will be looking in the future as well.
“Right now, we are focused on reversing type 2 diabetes and related chronic metabolic conditions,” Inkinen wrote. “There is no shortage of need there, both in the broader context of the worsening diabetes epidemic, and what employers, health plans, and government organizations are focusing on. Chronic metabolic conditions are a top health concern, and payers are frustrated that they have an array of options, but none are doing much to help their populations or curb their out-of-control growth in healthcare costs.”
WHY IT MATTERS
Diabetes, prediabetes and obesity are all common conditions in the U.S. According to the CDC 34.2 million people in America have diabetes and 88 million have prediabetes. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90–95% of all diabetes diagnosis. Risk factors for the condition include being overweight, having a family history, being physically inactive and age.
The agency reports that diet, exercise and working with a medical professional can help individuals manage their diabetes.
THE LARGER TREND
Virta is a well-funded company, closing a $93 million Series C financing round in January. This raise brought its total funding pot to $166 million. Last year, the company conducted a pilot with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In the pilot 84% of patients enrolled achieved an estimated HbA1C of less than 6.5%.
There’s no shortage of digital health companies in the diabetes space. One of the biggest names in the industry is Livongo, which was designed to help manage diabetes along with other chronic conditions. The startup was recently acquired by Teladoc for a whopping $18.5 billion.
Omada is another company that got its start in the diabetes space. Today it calls itself a chronic care management company. In the Spring, the company bought digital physical therapy platform Physera.