Former CMS Head Dr. Don Berwick Joins Virta Health Board of Directors
First-of-its-kind online diabetes reversal clinic also announces expert team of industry and scientific advisors
SAN FRANCISCO, August 3, 2017 – Virta Health, an online specialty medical clinic that reverses type 2 diabetes safely and sustainably, announced today that former Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Dr. Don Berwick is joining its Board of Directors. Drawing on decades of research, including that of its founders, Virta’s approach to type 2 diabetes reversal puts physicians and coaches into the pockets of patients through their smartphones to support everyday decisions, minute by minute.
“I’ve spent decades working with groups who aren’t afraid to tackle big problems with innovative approaches,” said Dr. Berwick. “The scientific and technological achievements to reverse type 2 diabetes at scale are groundbreaking. I’m excited to join their Board of Directors and work together to shift the paradigm from diabetes management to reversal.”
Recognized as a leading authority on healthcare quality and improvement, Dr. Berwick is president emeritus and a senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. A pediatrician by training, Dr. Berwick has served on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, as well as Boston's Children's Hospital Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Brigham and Women's Hospital. He was vice chair of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the first independent member of the American Hospital Association’s Board of Trustees, and chair of the National Advisory Council of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. He served on the Institute of Medicine’s Governing Council and on President Clinton’s Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Healthcare Industry.
“We founded Virta with a mission to reverse type 2 diabetes in 100 million people by 2025, and are grateful for the support of our Board and advisors to achieve this ambitious goal,” said Sami Inkinen, CEO and co-founder of Virta Health. “Our primary focus has always been patient safety and transformative outcomes. Now that we’ve proven our outcomes, we have to scale our delivery model. Dr. Berwick’s experience in improving healthcare quality and outcomes globally is going to be invaluable in this process.”
Beyond adding Dr. Berwick to its Board, Virta has also assembled an expert group of scientific and healthcare industry advisors, including:
- Peter Attia, MD, founder, Attia Medical, PC;
- Bruce Bistrian, MD, PhD, chief, clinical nutrition, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School;
- John Cannon, former executive vice president and chief administrative officer, Health Care Service Corporation, and former interim president and CEO, Anthem, Inc.;
- Michael E. Chernew, PhD, Leonard D. Schaeffer professor of health care policy and director, Healthcare Markets and Regulation Lab, Harvard Medical School;
- Kevin Fontaine, PhD, chair, department of health behavior, School of Public Health, University of Alabama, Birmingham;
- Fredrick Hecht, MD, Osher Foundation Endowed Chair in research in integrative medicine and professor of medicine, University of California, San Francisco;
- Senator Bob Kerrey, former Nebraska governor and senator, and managing director, Allen & Company LLC;
- Ronald M. Krauss, MD, senior scientist and director of atherosclerosis research, Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, adjunct professor of medicine, University of California, San Francisco, and adjunct professor of nutritional sciences, University of California, Berkeley;
- Shawn Leavitt, senior vice president of global benefits, Comcast;
- Carol Levy, MD, director of the Mount Sinai Diabetes Center and associate professor of medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai;
- Zeev E. Neuwirth, MD, senior medical director of population health, Carolinas Healthcare System;
- Robert E. Ratner, MD, FACP, FACE, former chief scientific and medical officer, American Diabetes Association;
- Mark D. Smith, MD, MBA, professor of clinical medicine, University of California, San Francisco, and visiting professor, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley;
- Ethan Weiss, MD, associate professor of medicine, University of California, San Francisco, and member of the Cardiovascular Research Institute.
Virta reverses type 2 diabetes by lowering hemoglobin A1c (a measure of blood sugar) while reducing or eliminating medications in an online setting with continuous, remote care. The Virta Clinic provides physician supervision, a dedicated health coach, app and biomarker tracking tools, a community of peers, and a personalized nutrition and care plan based on each patient’s biochemistry, medications, and lifestyle.
The company’s debut in March 2017 came on the heels of a peer-reviewed study that demonstrated Virta was successful in reversing type 2 diabetes in half of its clinical trial patients and eliminating or reducing insulin in 87 percent of patients in 10 weeks. Virta is continuing to follow participants as part of its two-year clinical trial, and at six months, retention remains at 89 percent and weight loss has continued — patients lost 12 percent of their body weight on average.
For more information about Virta Health and the science behind reversing type 2 diabetes without medications or surgery, visit www.virtahealth.com.
About Virta Health
Virta is an online specialty medical clinic that reverses type 2 diabetes safely and sustainably, without the risks, costs, or side effects of medications or surgery. Drawing on decades of research, including that of our founders and advisors, Virta is driving two major innovations. First, we take a highly individualized approach to metabolic health, focused on carbohydrate intake and nutritional ketosis, to address the underlying biochemistry of diabetes and shift the paradigm from management to reversal. And second, our technology and artificial intelligence platform enables continuous, remote care and ongoing personalization of each patient’s treatment plan, delivered online by Virta physicians and health coaches. Taken together, this approach enables Virta to deliver the high-engagement, personalized care required to reverse type 2 diabetes safely and sustainably in millions of people, each with unique biochemistry, medications, and life circumstances.
Virta works as a referral partner for physicians and provider groups looking for safe and sustainable specialty care for their patients with type 2 diabetes. For enterprises, Virta offers a clinically proven, cost-effective solution to the rising costs of diabetes and helps create a healthier and more productive workforce. Founded in 2014 by Trulia co-founder Sami Inkinen and doctors Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek, Virta is backed by world-class investors including Venrock, Obvious Ventures, and Allen & Company and is headquartered in San Francisco. To learn more, visit www.virtahealth.com or follow us on Twitter @virtahealth.