GLP-1 Virtual Clinic Development: Towards Safe Weight Loss Process

Key Takeaways:

  1. GLP-1 or glucagon-like peptide 1 is a class of drugs that are used for weight loss and diabetes management in individuals.
  2. Around 48 percent of adults in the non-metro areas are living with obesity. Launching GLP-1 virtual clinics in rural areas can gain newer heights and can be a game changer for individuals looking to lose weight faster.
  3. A traditional weight loss program ranges between $100 to $10,000 per month. The price of GLP-1 drugs is around $1,000 per patient per month. Thus, making these drugs a cost-effective option to choose.
  4. A majority of the health insurance plans offer coverage for GLP-1 drugs for diabetes patients, but there’s hardly any for the weight management.
  5. Providers trained in weight loss medication, endocrinologists, or bariatric physicians can prescribe and run GLP-1 virtual clinic development.

An exponential rise in obesity in the USA has pushed healthcare technology and pharmaceutical industries to come up with feasible solutions to tackle weight gain issues. One such solution that is gaining hype in the healthcare sector is GLP-1 virtual clinic development.

GLP-1 or glucagon-like peptide 1 is a class of drugs that are used for weight loss and diabetes management in individuals. According to a study conducted by Harvard, two GLP-1 agonists (Liraglutide and Semaglutide) are approved by the FDA for long-term weight management, and out of the two, significant weight reduction was seen with the use of Semaglutide once weekly.

But where does GLP-1 virtual clinic development come into the picture? Companies such as Mayo Clinic have already introduced telehealth services to offer direct access to GLP-1 weight loss medication for patients. Healthcare providers are opting for GLP-1 virtual clinic development, so they can prescribe and administer these medications to patients through a series of questionnaires, tests, and primary diagnosis.

Now, let’s take a deep dive to understand the nuances of GLP-1 virtual clinic development.

Benefits of GLP-1 Virtual Clinic Development

The GLP-1 virtual clinic development is an emerging concept and is likely to scale in the upcoming years due to a need to lose weight faster. GLP-1 drugs come with fewer risks and side effects, hence making them popular among obese and diabetes patients. Here’s what the GLP-1 virtual clinic has to offer:

1. Convenience and Accessibility

GLP-1 virtual clinic development eliminates the need for patients to travel to clinics for their GLP-1 dosages. Providers can offer GLP-1 drug prescriptions for patients remotely, thus making them convenient.

Individuals residing in rural areas can easily access a GLP-1 virtual clinic and connect with healthcare providers for weight loss management. According to an article published on the NORC at the University of Chicago, obesity is more prevalent among rural populations than urban ones, around 48 percent of adults in the non-metro areas are living with obesity, compared to 41 percent in metro areas. So, with GLP-1 virtual clinic development, individuals in rural areas can opt for GLP-1 drugs and solve their obesity issues.

2. Cost-Effective Treatment Option

As per estimates, a traditional weight loss program ranges between $100 to $10,000 per month. The prices usually depend on aspects such as customized diet plans, regular consultations, exercises, supplements, tests, medications, and post-care. Whereas, as per an article by Reuters, the GLP-1 drugs are priced at around $1,000 per patient per month.

Traditional weight loss programs involve substantial overhead costs like staffing and admin expenses. Conversely, with GLP-1 virtual clinic development, healthcare executives can see reduced overhead expenses and minimal infrastructure costs. All of this while delivering high-quality care.

3. Better Patient Engagement

When it comes to virtual healthcare, patient engagement is crucial to building trust and a loyal patient base. The concept of GLP-1 virtual clinic development is fairly new, hence how to engage patients is a frequently asked question by providers. The answer may lie in an analysis conducted by Omada, a virtual-first healthcare provider company, and Express Scripts by Evernorth, a pharmacy benefit manager.

The analysis revealed that a meaningful engagement program offers greater weight loss compared to limited engagement among individuals taking GLP-1 drugs. The analysis further stated that certain program engagements such as setting goals, posting on peer discussion boards, sending messages to coaches, meal tracking, and stepping on the scale, were anticipated to result in greater weight loss over time.

Essential Features Needed for GLP-1 Virtual Clinic Development

A GLP-1 virtual clinic functions like telehealth, so a lot of healthcare companies are inducting GLP-1 medication in telehealth applications too. Development companies can draw inspiration from telehealth/telemedicine applications while deciding on the features. Some of the essential features include:

  1. Remote Consultations: Patients can seek remote consultation before opting for a weight loss drug. This may throw light on the side effects associated with the drug. A provider may recommend a series of tests to check whether the person has any thyroid problem or any other disease that may result in the GLP-1 drug’s counter-effect.
  2. GLP-1 E-Prescription: GLP-1 is not an over-the-counter drug, hence an e-prescription is required from a physician to acquire this drug. Post consultation, a healthcare provider can prescribe GLP-1, which can be purchased from the pharmacy the patient has listed.
  3. Medical History: This is a must-have feature because it allows providers to understand the past medical history of a patient and then administer the drug. Access to medical history eliminates potential threats that a patient may face after consuming GLP-1 medication.
  4. Personalized Weight Loss Plans: Providers can recommend a series of diet and nutrition plans, exercise routines, and supplements (in case they wish to stop consuming the drug after a certain timespan) along with GLP-1 drugs. This feature also enhances patient satisfaction rate when start seeing clear results.
  5. Patient Engagement Programs: As discussed in the earlier part of the article, patient engagement is critical when it comes to retaining and maintaining a healthy patient base. So, options such as community support, follow-ups by providers, and remote tracking of meals and exercise can keep a patient engaged.
  6. Payment Gateway System: Include a secured and convenient payment gateway system during the GLP-1 virtual clinic development. Encompass varied payment options such as credit/debit card, PayPal, Apple Pay, etc. Integrate automation tools for streamlining the process of generating invoices for patients.

To Note: Features are not limited to only these, a GLP-1 virtual clinic can be customized as per the requirements of practitioners and patient needs.

Challenges with GLP-1 Virtual Clinic Development

To build an effective GLP-1 virtual clinic, it is paramount to understand the hurdles and take action to avoid them. Let’s look at some critical challenges faced during the development of the GLP-1 virtual clinic and how to tackle them.

1. Ensuring the Safety of Weight Loss Drugs

As of now, there are only two FDA-approved drugs that can be accessed via GLP-1 virtual clinic. These drugs are Liraglutide and Semaglutide. Now, healthcare providers need to understand the side effects produced by each of these drugs before prescribing them. One of the key aspects that providers must keep in mind is that those who have a personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer or multiple endocrine neoplasia must not be given a weight loss drug.

Here is a list of the side effects of weight loss drugs as stated in an article published on Harvard website:

  1. ‘Ozempic Face’ as a side effect of GLP-1 medications. The term can be misleading because it can be a side effect of any drug. The term means rapid weight loss which can result in sunken eyes, wrinkles, hollowed look on the face, etc.
  2. Gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting, nausea, constipation, and diarrhea. All of them can be avoided by having smaller portions, eating slowly, stopping when full, and avoiding being active immediately post eating.
  3. Bile duct blockage and gallstone attacks.
  4. Bowel obstruction
  5. Gastroparesis
  6. Pancreatitis

Healthcare providers can make a note of these side effects before prescribing the drug. For best practice, consider carrying out tests and diagnosis before administering GLP-1 drugs for weight management.

2. Obstacles in Insurance Coverage

Health insurance coverage is a must when it comes to any health-related disputes, including weight management. It ensures that the clinicians are reimbursed for their services and it saves tons of money for patients. A majority of health insurance plans offer coverage for GLP-1 drugs for diabetes patients, but there’s hardly any for weight management. Medicare doesn’t cover weight management medications, except for type 2 diabetes.

To solve insurance issues, the development companies can maybe tie up with an insurance company that will cover the GLP-1 drugs under the insurance plans. The clinicians can use it as a USP for their GLP-1 virtual clinics to attract patients.

Another interesting fact to note is that states can decide whether to cover weight management drugs under Medicaid or not. For example, in January 2024, North Carolina cut obesity drug coverage for state employees. So, if planning to develop a GLP-1 virtual clinic in a particular state, then make sure to run through the state laws first.

3. Concerns with Expertise and Trust

One of the vital questions that arise is who can use the GLP-1 virtual clinic. Because not all healthcare providers specialize in weight loss management. Providers trained in weight loss medication, endocrinologists, or bariatric physicians can prescribe GLP-1 medications.

However, a boom in the usage and demand for GLP-1 drugs has pushed even unqualified physicians to prescribe these drugs. This hampers the trust that patient has in their clinical health provider. So, development companies can look into the expertise of healthcare providers before building or selling a GLP-1 virtual clinic to them.

In addition, with so many GLP-1 development companies in the picture, it may be hard for the patients to put their trust in one of them. In this case, it is up to the companies to gain the trust of their consumers and offer authentic services.

4. Privacy of GLP-1 Virtual Clinic

Privacy is an important aspect of any digital health product. GLP-1 virtual clinic is a storehouse of patient data, which must be protected at all costs. The safety and privacy of patients take the topmost priority when it comes to digital health.

Inducting HIPAA compliance and data exchange standards such as FHIR can preserve the privacy and safety of GLP-1 virtual clinics. These standards protect the virtual clinics from potential ransomware attacks and data breaches.

Can AI and RPM be a Pathbreaker for GLP-1 Virtual Clinics?

Just like the telemedicine market, the GLP-1 virtual clinic market will soon be saturated. So, what can a healthcare development company do for the providers, so that their GLP-1 virtual clinic stands out? The answer may lie in leveraging the power of artificial intelligence and remote patient monitoring in GLP-1 virtual clinic development. Here’s how:

1. Tracking Weight Loss via Remote Patient Monitoring

Integration of wearable technology in GLP-1 virtual clinics allows providers to track physical activities, vitals, and sleep cycles. This data offers valuable insights into patients’ day-to-day lifestyle and health and can be used to provide personalized recommendations.

Furthermore, the use of trackers such as symptom trackers enables patients to give a detailed report of their progress to healthcare providers. Based on this data, providers can adjust treatment plans as essential.

2. The Role of AI in Weight Loss Management

AI has the power to transform patient care in GLP-1 virtual clinics. AI algorithms can be used to analyze data and predict health status, for instance, whether the patient may or may not be allergic to drugs or may have health conditions that debar the patient from consuming weight loss drugs.

These algorithms can also automatically track weight changes and offer tailored recommendations for every patient. Integration of chatbots in GLP-1 virtual clinics can help to send out notifications about treatment plans to patients.

And it’s a Wrap!

The GLP-1 virtual clinic is a cost-effective way for weight loss management, and since it is a virtual clinic, it is easily accessible and convenient to use. With features such as GLP-1 e-prescriptions and weight loss programs, along with AI and remote patient monitoring integrations, the GLP-1 virtual clinic can efficiently aid patients in losing weight.

Now that you’ve understood the many nuances of GLP-1 virtual clinic development and if you wish to give it a go, then Arkenea is the right place for you to develop a world-class GLP-1 virtual clinic. We at Arkenea specialize in delivering healthcare software development products that match not only the client’s requirements but also adhere to industry standards. Get in touch with us for a consultation call today.