The Dubai-based healthcare startup has partnered with Novo Nordisk to launch what is considered one of the first tests of a value-based recovery model in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
GluCare.Health – listed among the 50 most funded startups in the region by Forbes Middle East at $ 20 million – and the Danish multinational pharmaceutical company will launch a partnership with a pilot weight management program with 150 patients in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Scheduled to begin in September 2022, the purpose of the study is to examine the results of treatment of practical patient care and data-driven remote care, compared to traditional models practiced in the country.
THE MORE CONTEXT
It is reported that by integrating newer digital biomarkers with existing therapeutic agents, GluCare.Health’s six-month program will include a multidisciplinary clinical team consisting of a health coach, dietitian, nurse or patient trainer, and endocrinologist. The wearable devices of the startup and the remote continuous data monitoring will form the digital aspect.
“Novo Nordisk UAE will provide the pharmacological component of the weight management program, putting at risk its share of the project costs, which means that they will pay – together with GluCare.Health – the costs of the patient program if key performance indicators of weight loss is not met, “said Ihsan Almarzuki, co-founder and managing director of GluCare.Health IT news in healthcare. “This type of discount is not typical of the pharmaceutical industry and is a new approach for Novo Nordisk UAE. Through this partnership, Novo Nordisk simultaneously validates the program and participates in the value-based approach to healthcare that we have long advocated.
Subject to the minimum requirements regarding “commitment and adherence to protocols that the patient must follow”, GluCare.Health and Novo Nordisk will cover all or part of the cost of care if a participant does not lose at least 10% of their body weight by the end of the test.
WHY IT MATTERS
According to the company, the pilot program could be “widely accepted to save the UAE economy up to $ 3.6 billion a year.”
Ali Hashemi, co-founder and chairman of GluCare.Health, said: “Obesity management is not usually paid for by insurance companies in the UAE, but severe comorbidities that are related to or caused by obesity are a huge burden. These include sleep apnea, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, prediabetes, osteoarthritis and more. “
He continued: “These downstream conditions lead to an estimated cost of $ 3.6 billion a year in the UAE alone, and the risk ultimately depends on employers and society. If obesity itself was considered a disease and if its treatment was widely and routinely paid for, weight loss would have a major waterfall effect on the downstream costs of the health system.
Almarzuki added: “We expect Novo Nordisk UAE to benefit from improved results from the use of its innovative therapeutic agents. GluCare.Health will report and publish the results of this study when it is completed. They will also benefit from the new data we use as part of our ongoing care model, such as digital biomarkers and engagement data that our own platform captures.
“Typical obesity programs and existing literature do not contain this type of ‘hyperpersonalized, continuous’ information. These new datasets will be in addition to routine datasets such as laboratory and clinical results. The combination of the two sets, together with the “risk payment model”, can provide a plan for how future obesity programs are accepted and paid more widely by payers.
“Obesity is a complex serious chronic disease associated with many other health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers,” said Mads Bo Larsen, vice president and general manager of Novo Nordisk in the UAE. “Over the last 30 years, the prevalence of obesity in the UAE has almost tripled and this trend is threatening health systems, economies and individual lives.
“It is well documented that the management of obesity requires a holistic approach and a comprehensive solution, and we strongly believe that combining technology with traditional therapies will improve treatment outcomes.
Hashemi added: “Part of the challenge in implementing a transformative weight loss program led by cutting-edge therapies such as Novo Nordisk are two things. First, the cost of therapeutic agents can be prohibitively high, and second, for some patients, their metabolic systems simply will not respond.
“Faced with these chances, it can sometimes be difficult for patients to make the significant commitment to spend on these therapies and services. Providing a results-based mechanism that essentially ensures this risk for patients helps reduce the barrier to adoption and lets patients know that if they pay for it, it will work.
He concluded: “This is no different from other ‘guaranteed or refunded’ models that consumers are already accustomed to when it comes to buying goods and services. It’s just not widely used in healthcare because suppliers and pharmaceutical companies didn’t want to put themselves at risk that way. “
GluCare.Health’s weight management program is open to individuals who are considered obese based on a BMI of 30 or more, or a BMI of 27 or more with at least weight-related comorbidity. Those wishing to apply can do so by sending an email to [email protected] and requesting an “at risk” obesity program.