Virta Health is both a provider, licensed in 50 states and complementing the PCP like a diabetes reversal specialist, as well as a vendor with all of the infrastructure to support large member populations (i.e., marketing, client services, analytics, reporting). Virta has pioneered a new type of treatment that goes beyond diabetes management to achieve sustained diabetes reversal without surgery or invasive procedures. Cited by the American Diabetes Association in their 2019 and 2020 Standards
For decades we've heard that diabetes prevention is simple-lose weight, eat less, and exercise more. But something is wrong with this conventional wisdom. Nearly 115 million people live with either diabetes or prediabetes in the United States, and that number is growing. It is time to reverse this trend. Virta was founded in 2014 with the goal of reversing type 2 diabetes in 100 million people by 2025. Our mission is inspired by our founding story, and continues to guide us today.
Type of Organization
Provider - Individuals or organizations responsible for providing care to patients (e.g. doctors, nurses, hospital/clinic administrators, etc.)
Size of Organization
Organization Mailing Address
501 Folsom Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
Our approach is to reverse type 2 diabetes. Unlike diabetes management solutions-which work to stabilize high blood sugar through costly prescription drugs-Virta returns blood sugar to normal levels, while safely eliminating all diabetes-specific drugs, including insulin. The fact that we achieve normal glycemic control in the majority of our patients at one year while eliminating diabetes specific medications is unique to Virta Health. Also, Virta improves other chronic conditions.
Virta reverses diabetes through a highly individualized medical nutritional therapy, delivered virtually by our tech-enabled, physician-led medical group.
We begin by teaching patients to adopt a unique, low carbohydrate nutrition plan, which has been demonstrated effective in our clinical trial and is listed as a first-line therapy by the American Diabetes Association in their 2019 & 2020 Standards of Care.
As patients make nutritional changes, their blood sugar drops quickly, which requires rapid adjustments to their mediations. Our team of physicians monitor patients' blood glucose daily, via biometric monitoring devices we provide. Typically, our physicians cut insulin dosage by 50% in the first week, and eliminate most diabetes drugs completely by 10 weeks.
We also employ highly trained health coaches-including registered nurses, dieticians, and diabetes educators-who provide patients with intensive behavioral coaching, and communicate with each patient 2-4 times per day via secure messaging.
All of these interactions are mediated through our patient-facing app, as well as our provider-facing medical platform, which connect seamlessly and empower our care team to deliver high quality, continuous remote care.
One of the major benefits of our approach is that our clinical team is fully remote, and our treatment works for patients wherever and whenever they need care. With that said, we will, on an as needed basis, establish in-person sessions, focus groups and other events for educational purposes and to facilitate enrollment.
We combine the evidence-based guidelines we've developed through our clinical research with best practices in behavioral health including motivational interviewing, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Some of the key motivational interviewing techniques that are deployed involve short and long term goal setting, barrier detection, connecting behaviors with short term progress and asking patients open-ended questions to deepen understanding. These combined with ongoing coach training and education allow Virta to deliver care to patients in a variety of socio-economic contexts.
Category of Innovation
Digital Health - A digital health solution is a technology-based solution whose user is caring for or providing care for themselves (think of a personal app) or another individual (such as a doctor using a tool to help their patient)
Intended End User
Payer - Organizations responsible for issuing or administering payment for the care received by a population of people (e.g. insurance companies)
Patient - Individuals who receive health care
Purchaser - Organizations responsible for purchasing health benefits for a population of people (e.g. employers or government entities)
Problem (i.e. barrier, issue, complication, etc.) being solved for the end user
Type 2 diabetes is a national health crisis. If you are an adult living in the United States, you are now more likely than not to either have type 2 diabetes or be on your way to developing it. 14.3% of US adults have type 2 diabetes, and 38.0% of US adults have prediabetes, meaning that 52.3% of the adult population in the US is suffering from metabolic disease. At the most basic level, diabetes is a term used to describe a group of diseases that result in high blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes, (also called diabetes mellitus type 2) represents about 95% of what is generically called "diabetes." Early in its course, type 2 diabetes is characterized by the combination of very high insulin levels and high blood sugar. In a person without diabetes, such high insulin levels would rapidly reduce blood sugar to normal, but in type 2 diabetes the body becomes resistant to the action of insulin (also known as 'insulin resistance'), making blood glucose levels hard to control with insulin and other standard medications. Prediabetes is used to describe an earlier stage of insulin resistance where blood sugar that is elevated above normal, but not high enough to be called type 2 diabetes. An American Diabetes Association expert panel estimated that up to 70% of individuals with prediabetes will eventually develop diabetes.1 But because prediabetes has few obvious symptoms, 90% of people with prediabetes don't know they have it.
Idea/solution to the problem, if applicable
There are three forms of treatment for type 2 diabetes that have been demonstrated to reverse this disease. Bariatric surgery can sometimes reverse type 2 diabetes, but it is expensive, can have major side effects including death, and often loses its effectiveness after a few years. Very low calorie diets (also called semi-starvation diets) can lead to rapid weight loss and diabetes reversal, but can only be followed for a few months, after which weight maintenance and continued diabetes control are difficult. The third treatment is a well-formulated ketogenic diet, which is nutritionally complete and can be followed for years. The diet sets up a state of nutritional ketosis in the body in which fat becomes the primary fuel instead of carbohydrates.
The terms "reversed" and "cured" mean very different things. Type 2 diabetes can be "reversed" but not "cured" because the disease will come back if long-term behavior change is not successfully maintained. There are still several points of debate around the term "reversal"-in particular, how long HbA1c and medication reduction success have to last for the diabetes to be considered reversed. Since diabetes reversal is a relatively new term, there is no universally accepted definition by the scientific community or agencies like the American Diabetes Association or American Medical Association. Thus many medical professionals are still unaware that reversal is even possible.
Virta's definition of diabetes reversal is maintaining an HbA1c below 6.5%, with the elimination of all diabetic medications removed (except for metformin) and this is our solution to the national health crisis that diabetes has faced our country with.
Level of adoption (i.e. list of customers/users, testimonials, etc.), if applicable
Some of our customers include: Veteran's Health Administration, Blue Shield of California, Purdue University, US Foods, and Nielsen.
A few of our patient testimonials are linked below:
- Kevin saves $500 a month by getting off of his diabetes specific medications: https://www.virtahealth.com/blog/saving-500-month-getting-off-insulin
- Reversing diabetes during COVID-19: https://www.virtahealth.com/blog/covid-19-rural-nebraska-type-2-diabetes-reversal
- Virta teaches patients how to reverse diabetes in any situation: https://www.virtahealth.com/blog/reverse-type-2-diabetes-in-any-situation
Impact (i.e. measurable outcomes), if applicable
Beyond our clinical trial, our patients have seen similar outcomes at our employer and health plan customers. High level, 61% of our patients achieved diabetes reversal, the average HbA1c drop was 0.9% and the average weight loss was 30 pounds.
You can deep dive into our commercial outcomes by taking a look at our one year commercial outcomes white paper here: https://assets.website-files.com/5dc45139b3f0c91202ecd326/5df82b4140a1a9301d69376c_Virta%20Health%E2%80%94One%20Year%20Commercial%20Outcomes%20White%20Paper.pdf