Noom, a digital solution that supports weight loss, is now expanding its services for employers to include Noom Med, a clinical obesity management solution. The company made this announcement Monday at HLTH 2023 in Las Vegas.
New York City-based Noom helps people build healthy habits through psychological tools like food tracking, coaching and community. Its Noom Med offering, previously only available to consumers, includes all these same services as well as more clinical support.
Two groups of patients are eligible for Noom Med: those with a body mass index of 30 or higher, or those with a body mass index of 27 or higher with one or more weight-related conditions. When patients start with Noom Med, they receive a health evaluation by a physician or physician-supervised nurse practitioner and complete lab work. They then meet with the physician over video to form a personalized care plan that takes into account patients’ biology and goals. If determined appropriate, the patient may be prescribed medication, such as GLP-1s. They can follow the care plan — including the patient education and nutrition and exercise tools — through Noom’s app. Once goals are met, Noom Med will support patients in weaning off medication.
It’s important to have this kind of evaluation before prescribing GLP-1s to patients, said Dr. Linda Anegawa, chief of medicine at Noom. Covering GLP-1s can be costly to employers, who are already concerned with the healthcare cost trend.
“Not everybody necessarily needs a GLP-1, so that’s part of the process and part of the value proposition of what we offer,” she said in an interview. “The other thing is based on people’s individual characteristics, they might actually do better with a non-GLP-1. For example, if you’re somebody who only gets cravings when you’re stressed as opposed to that gnawing constant physiological hunger that some people have, maybe a GLP-1 isn’t right for you.”
Anegawa added that it’s vital to offer lifestyle support in addition to GLP-1s. When the Food and Drug Administration approved Wegovy, a GLP-1, for chronic weight management, it said the drug should be used in addition to dieting and exercise.
“GLP-1s are necessary for certain people, without a doubt,” Anegawa said. “But they’re needed for metabolic optimization while the lifestyle change is going on because it’s really those lifestyle changes that over time drive changes in the brain’s craving pathways. They drive improvements in insulin resistance through diet and exercise. They work together harmoniously and that’s what enables the eventual off-ramp.”
Noom isn’t the only company offering access to GLP-1s as the drugs gain media attention. Lifestyle support company WeightWatchers recently acquired Sequence, a virtual care company that offers GLP-1 prescriptions. Found, a weight care company for employers and consumers, also recently launched a program that offers access to GLP-1s. LifeMD, a direct-to-consumer company, announced a new weight management program, which prescribes GLP-1s if considered appropriate as well.
In extending Noom Med to employers, Anegawa hopes to make its offerings “far more accessible to people who otherwise are interested in the consumer-based product but can’t afford it. Let’s face it, it’s an extra cost.”
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