Why Diabetes Management Isn’t Enough

For years we've watched the prevalence of diabetes, along with the associated treatment costs, steadily increase. And for years, companies and researchers have piloted diabetes management solutions and expensive prescription drugs to no avail.

Studies show that these solutions aren't delivering on their promise to curb diabetes prevalence or reduce related medical spend. In fact, type 2 diabetes prevalence is now expected to double between 2020 and 2030 and care for people with diagnosed diabetes accounts for 25% of total healthcare dollars in the US

The Problem with Standard Diabetes Programs

Standard or typical diabetes management solutions merely maintain an ongoing and growing problem. These programs often do nothing to reduce the expensive Rx and medical costs that individuals living with diabetes face. And at a macro level, they’ve done nothing to actually curb prevalence or spend. 

With standard management programs, patients use glucometers to track their blood sugar and then adjust the amount of insulin they take to keep things in a certain range. If it’s a virtual program, patients might occasionally interact with their assigned health coach and typically make in-office visits to their PCPs or endocrinologists a few times a year. Standard diabetes programs only scratch the surface with medication adherence and blood glucose monitoring, and don’t reverse the root cause of the disease. 

Break Free of the Status Quo

The adage “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got” is incredibly true when talking about type 2 diabetes. 

Successfully addressing high-cost chronic disease, like type 2 diabetes, requires a new approach. To actually make an impact and change the trajectory of this devastating  disease, we need a new approach. Enter diabetes reversal. 

What is Diabetes Reversal?

Unlike diabetes management programs where users track their blood sugar to better understand and manage their medication intake, diabetes reversal helps users reduce their A1c to sub-diabetic levels and reduce or even eliminate diabetes medications, like insulin. 

The benefits are extensive - many patients in Virta’s diabetes reversal program share their rapid quality of life improvements. They feel and sleep better, see an increase in their energy, and experience weight loss and significant health improvements, including cardiovascular disease risk factors

Virta helps patients “reverse” their diabetes when their A1c returns to sub-diabetic levels and are able to eliminate all diabetes-specific medications other than metformin. 

In Virta’s clinical trial, 60% of patients who completed one year reversed their diabetes. At two years, most of the results were sustained or improved. 83% of patients who reversed diabetes in year one sustained reversal through the end of year two (source). 

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) Standards of Care recommends low carb nutrition as a first line therapy option to treat type 2 diabetes, citing Virta's research as supporting evidence.

Diabetes reversal continues to gain momentum as noted with the August 2021 release of a groundbreaking consensus statement from a group of international diabetes experts to define diabetes remission.

The Clinical and Financial Impact of Diabetes Reversal vs Diabetes Management

The clinical and financial outcomes of diabetes reversal are markedly different from diabetes management and prevention (table 1). Unlike standard care or diabetes management programs, Virta delivers more than twice the reduction in A1c levels. And Virta is the only solution that lowers A1c while also eliminating 59% of diabetes-specific medications in the first year (source)

Table 1

Your Diabetes Strategy Is Incomplete Without Reversal

A recent dQ&A survey showed that 78% of people living with type 2 diabetes were unaware of reversal or knew very little about it. However, once they were made aware, 87% were then motivated to try it (survey sponsored by Virta Health, administered Dec 2021, n=1,024). 

The option to get off diabetes-related medications safely and sustainably without surgery is something that has never been offered to most patients until recent years. Virta’s diabetes reversal treatment fits alongside any diabetes management or prevention programs already in place to meet this pent up demand. 

You Can’t Afford to Wait to Tackle Type 2 Diabetes

The cost of delaying diabetes reversal even one day is huge – at a national level, the ADA estimates the cost of diagnosed diabetes of $327 billion includes $237 billion in direct medical costs and $90 billion in reduced productivity.

How does this translate to your employees and members? In late 2021, Virta determined that our diabetes reversal treatment saves an estimated $425 PPPM (per patient, per month) in total medical & Rx drug expenses over the first 24 months (2:1 ROI using claims-based, externally validated methodology). 

For an employer with 10,000 employees and typical 10% rates of diabetes prevalence, we estimate $1M in annual savings.

For a health plan this means over $5,000/year in gross savings for each of your diabetes members across ASO, fully insured, and Medicare Advantage lines of business. Our in-house actuary team can model these savings with your individual plan’s PMPM costs.

Figure 1: Annualized Allowed Costs Over Time (source)

This is your chance to offer employees and members an alternate ending to the life they expected to have with this burdensome, costly disease. Schedule a brief intro call with our team of experts to see what diabetes reversal can do for your organization. 

Are you a patient interested in Virta or with questions about the treatment or eligibility? Contact us here.

5 Things To Look For In A Diabetes Reversal Solution

  1. Diabetes reversal is possible for people of all ages, races, ethnicities and walks of life, so make sure to pick a partner with experience serving all kinds of populations.
  2. Make sure your solution has clinically proven outcomes. Unlike many digital health solutions, Virta Health’s evidence-based nutrition therapy began as a clinical trial before our treatment was ever commercialized. See our 1 year, 2 year and 3.5 year outcomes here and be on the lookout for our 5 year outcomes.
  3. Ongoing and intensive behavioral support delivered through virtual continuous remote care is critical to driving the long-term, sustainable changes necessary to reverse diabetes. This should be foundational in your diabetes reversal solution.  
  4. Personalized care delivered by professionals who are additive of your existing provider network. Virta Health is a diabetes specialty clinic that consists of health coaches and providers, including primary care physicians and endocrinologists backed by technology to encourage communication with the patient and your existing provider network.
  5. Bonus: Pick a partner who puts skin in the game with you, like Virta, who puts 100% of fees at risk based on outcomes for an entire year.

Ready to start reversing diabetes for your population?

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Citations and Footnotes
  1. Hallberg SJ et al. Diabetes Ther. 2018; 9(2): 583-612. Outcomes among one year completers (83% retention in Virta Treatment; 90% retention in Standard Care). Rx refers to the net change in diabetes-specific prescription volume at one year (which excludes metformin) compared to baseline and multiple insulins prescribed to a patient were counted as one rx. 
  2. Bollyky JB et al. JMIR Diabetes. 2019; 4, e14799 (Outcomes among one year completers (44% retention in Livongo). 
  3. Diabetes-related prescription utilization according to five-client, two-year DiD analysis (slide 34). Livongo presentation at EBPA 2018. https://www.ebpa.org/resources/presentations/2018/Livongo_EBPA_20SEP2018.pdf 
  4. Bollyky JB et al. J Diabetes Res. 2018; 3961730. (Outcomes at 12 weeks for Livongo + scale group).