Why We're Hopeful for the Future of Diabetes Care: Looking Back at the Past 5 Years at Virta Health
This week we crossed an important milestone at Virta: five years since we kicked off our clinical trial that has laid the foundation for diabetes reversal.
Although the type 2 diabetes epidemic continues to grow, I’m more hopeful than ever that we can change its trajectory. Our progress in the last several years paints a picture of a remarkably different future for people with diabetes. In honor of this 5-year milestone, I thought I’d share five of our team’s many achievements, along with a few things we’ve learned along the way.
1. Demonstrated that we can systematically reverse type 2 diabetes
Virta co-founders Drs. Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek already had decades of experience and data showing diabetes reversal was possible prior to Virta existing. But it has been the packaging of their knowledge into our clinical trial that has provided the foundation for Virta’s success.
- sustain results to one year, with 94% of completers reducing or eliminating insulin use while improving blood sugar
- sustain results to two years, with further reduction in medication load, including an 81% overall reduction in insulin
- improve other chronic metabolic conditions, including cardiovascular health, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and steatohepatitis (NASH), the latter of which has no FDA-approved drug
The diabetes industrial complex is sadly littered with snake oil treatments and unsubstantiated claims. In this context, building evidence for our approach was essential. Our outcomes are validated via peer-review, third-parties like the Validation Institute, and customers, and are even cited in the American Diabetes Association (ADA) Standards in Medical Care for Diabetes.
In short, it’s a landmark trial at the heart of a new category of treatment.
2. Created a new model for diabetes care
Reversing type 2 diabetes at scale has meant rethinking how diabetes care is delivered. We built a care model—Continuous Remote Care—from the ground up. It is a fundamental departure from the standard of care for diabetes.
One example of this? Most patients in the existing model of diabetes treatment see their physicians for 15 minutes 3-4 times per year. Our patients interact with their dedicated Virta clinical team (composed of both physicians and health coaches) 3-4 times per day.
Put simply, without this platform, there is no Virta Treatment. Scale, safety, effectiveness, and patient experience are all enabled by Continuous Remote Care.
3. Implemented a value-based care model with 100% of fees at risk
$400B. That’s the economic burden of diabetes in the United States each year. Sadly and inexplicably, this “investment” comes with no improvement in population outcomes. In other words, our nation continues to pour money into solutions that simply aren't getting the job done. We’ve taken a different approach.
“You pay only if we are successful.”
That is the message we’ve been sending to our partners since 2018. We are willing to put 100% of our fees at risk based on diabetes reversal metrics. This is the way healthcare should be paid for.
4. Partnered with the largest payers in industry
From customers like Comcast and Nielsen to large health plans like Blue Shield of California to government entities like the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, we’ve partnered with payers of all types to bring them the transformational benefits of diabetes reversal.
These benefits go well beyond health outcomes. Many of our customers experience savings of over $5000 per patient per year in the form of reduced medications, fewer hospitalizations and emergency room visits, and reduced need for medical supplies.
These savings extend to patients, too. Kim saved over $450 monthly by eliminating the need for insulin and other expensive medications. This is life-altering for many patients. For payers, they tackle one of their largest cost drivers, with a win that goes directly to the bottom line.
5. Built a world-class team serving patients across the entire United States
We’ve built our team from a handful of dedicated team members to a nationally distributed team of several hundred Virtans who are just as passionate about helping people as our original team. Beyond our employees, we have been fortunate to attract world-class advisors and board members, too, who are not only experts in their field but compassionate, humble, and equally dedicated to ending the diabetes epidemic.
I’m honored to get to work with this talented crew every day, and inspired by their expertise. (And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t highlight career opportunities at Virta. We continue to grow and invite you to join us on our mission!)
Virta was started to reverse type 2 diabetes in 100 million people. Five years ago, we saw the potential but weren’t sure if we’d help one patient let alone 100 million. There is a long road ahead, but the future is clearer than ever. I’m so grateful for the impact we have made thus far, and I am looking forward to the next 5 years, with as much energy as I have ever had, to bring diabetes reversal to the millions who need and deserve it.