- Telehealth giant Teladoc Health is expanding its physician-based care product for employers to weight management and prediabetes, as interest explodes in drugs meant for diabetes control that are being more frequently prescribed for weight loss, resulting in nationwide shortages.
- The medications, called GLP-1 drugs, include Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic, which has been at the center of a national conversation about health, weight loss and medication access as more people, especially celebrities, use the drug to lose weight.
- The provider-based program, which includes access to a Teladoc-employed doctor for a personalized care plan, along with daily coaching with digital tools, will become available for diabetes prevention and weight management in the third quarter, the company told Healthcare Dive.
Teladoc’s provider-based care program is designed to help members lose weight and avoid developing diabetes by using medications, including GLP-1 agonists, along with other Teladoc tools to address the full range of cardiometabolic health risk factors, the company said. Other tools include nutrition logging and coaching, activity tracking and sleep management.
Depending on a patient’s needs, members can receive a combination of care including a continuous glucose monitor, lab work and a drug prescription through a series of visits with a Teladoc physician, according to the company.
The care program is already available for diabetes and hypertension. Teladoc cited the growing prevalence of obesity in the U.S. as its motivation to expand the program to weight management and prediabetes, along with the rising popularity of GLP-1 therapies.
GLP-1 drugs have been available to treat diabetes for years, but have made headlines recently for purported weight loss benefits. As more people have rushed to procure the drugs to shed pounds, many patients with diabetes have struggled to access the medication, especially as prescriptions became more widely available online.
A handful of digital health companies, including Ro and Sequence — a telehealth platform recently acquired by WeightWatchers — advertise quick and easy access to the drugs. Experts say online prescribing, where telehealth companies might not have access to a patient’s full history or rigorous intake requirements, could result in fragmented care or misuse.
Teladoc said it applies evidence-based guidelines to prescribe GLP-1s only when clinically appropriate.
“There is no doubt that GLP-1s can be a critical tool in the management of cardiometabolic disease, particularly weight management, but they work best as an addition to altering long-term habits that address nutrition, activity, sleep and stress management,” a Teladoc spokesperson said.
Teladoc declined to shares sales numbers for the provider-based care program, but said early interest from employers was strong.