Transformation of Weight Management Care through Digital Platforms

17 August 2023
Four digital platforms – Liva, Oviva, Roczen, and Second Nature – have emerged as game-changers in the field of weight management. These platforms serve as channels for individuals meeting specific criteria, including at least one weight-related comorbidity such as diabetes or hypertension, and a body mass index (BMI) of at least 35.0 kg/m2. In certain cases, the BMI threshold may be lower. The innovation lies not only in the accessibility of these platforms but also in their ability to deliver specialized weight management medication.

Holistic Virtual Weight Management Care

The days when weight management care was confined to traditional face-to-face interactions are behind us. With these digital platforms, individuals receive comprehensive care virtually. A multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals, including psychological support, closely monitors patients and reduces the risks of conditions such as eating disorders and mental health issues. Furthermore, the platforms offer personalized support, ensuring that the unique needs of each individual are addressed. In the Netherlands as well, digital tools are already being utilized to guide people with morbid obesity. A noteworthy example is the new obesity care pathway introduced in the Greater Amsterdam region earlier this year. E-health coaching plays a pivotal role in this, involving innovative bariatric care that addresses the causes, prevention, and treatment of obesity. For instance, obesity patients are required to complete digital questionnaires. The potential warning signals arising from these can serve as the basis for appropriate interventions.

Digitally Enabled Medication

One of the most remarkable aspects of these platforms is their capacity to prescribe weight management medication. Semaglutide and liraglutide, drugs designed to promote weight loss, can be prescribed to eligible individuals as part of a holistic care package. The integration of medication with diet and exercise plans underscores the significance of a comprehensive approach to weight management. One of the significant challenges in healthcare is ensuring equitable access to services. In England, disparities in specialized weight management services have been noted. Some regions lack access to these services altogether, and waiting times for care can be substantial. The introduction of digital platforms aims to bridge these gaps and provide individuals in underserved areas the opportunity to receive specialized care. Additionally, the digital approach meets the needs of those who struggle with traveling for appointments or prefer virtual interactions.

Impact and Future Perspectives

Early indicators point to promising outcomes from the use of digital weight management platforms. Comparable weight loss percentages have been observed over a two-year period when comparing virtual services to traditional face-to-face specialized care. Moreover, these platforms have the potential to be cost-effective, although long-term evidence is still being collected. Looking ahead, NICE plans to assess the long-term cost-effectiveness of these digital solutions over the next four years. This information will inform future decisions and recommendations. By embracing these digital innovations, England's healthcare sector adopts a proactive approach to address obesity, reduce associated healthcare costs, and enhance the quality of life for individuals struggling with weight-related issues. Conclusion The integration of digital platforms into weight management care in England signifies a significant shift in how healthcare services are delivered. By using technology to provide virtual care, England addresses inequalities, improves accessibility, and offers a more comprehensive approach to weight management. As evidence accumulates and insights are gained, the lessons learned from this approach could potentially serve as a blueprint for other health systems aiming to optimize weight management services using digital solutions.