STAT+: With new research, health tech companies try to make a case for virtual diabetes care

Virtual programs could fill important gaps in diabetes care. But health tech companies need research to prove their worth.

For all the time and money health tech companies have poured into developing virtual care for type 2 diabetes, the field doesn’t have much of a track record just yet.

There’s relatively little rigorous data on how well virtual lifestyle coaching combined with medical care can make a dent in type 2 diabetes rates or outcomes, or how easy it is for patients to stick to the plans over time. But virtual care companies are working to fill that evidence void. On Sunday, Virta Health presented outcomes from a five-year study — one of the longest yet on digital diabetes care. People who stuck with the program, which aims to prevent and treat type 2 diabetes with a virtual nutrition program supported by health coaches and clinicians, on average saw meaningful weight loss while reducing blood sugar and diabetes medications, with 20% achieving diabetes remission.

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