WVU Medicine pilots weight loss program for employees

Morgantown, W.Va.-based WVU Medicine is piloting an obesity management treatment program for eligible employees and covered family members. 

The program will connect eligible patients with a body mass index of 40 or more to a multidisciplinary team of physicians, advanced practice providers, dieticians, nurses and health coaches. The popular class of weight loss drugs known as GLP-1s, or glucagon-like receptor agonists, are covered as part of the program. 

"When employers look at adding this coverage they really want to be sure they're going to get a good return on investment," Laura Davisson, MD, a professor of medicine and director of WVU Medicine's medical weight management program, told Becker's. "To have a comprehensive program, we are prescribing the medication, but we are also adding all of this behavioral support and coaching to really make sure that the patients are going to get the best outcomes possible while they're on the meds." 

The one-year pilot will include 250 patients who will enter a registry where care teams will be able to monitor data and track what specific factors or combination of factors — coaching, appointments and medications — led to better outcomes. 

"What we're hoping to do by the end of the pilot is demonstrate to our employer how successful it was and how they are going to get the return on investment from their healthier employees if they cover these medicines," Dr. Davisson said.

Earlier this month, Mayo Clinic launched a weight loss telemedicine service — The Mayo Clinic Diet Medical Weight Loss Rx program — that will offer eligble patients direct access to weight loss medications via visits with Amwell Medical Group clinicians.  

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