As the conversation around weight loss drugs grows, new modes of delivering weight management programs keep cropping up.
This time it’s Hello Alpha, a virtual primary care company geared toward women consumers and employees. The Palo Alto, California-based company unveiled last week Ahead with Alpha, which provides weight loss support for employees of its employer customers. This support includes access to primary care providers trained in obesity care, medication management through weight loss drugs like GLP-1s, nutrition counseling with a registered dietitian and progress tracking.
Several other virtual care companies have also recently created weight management programs. In June, LifeMD launched a program for consumers that offers access to a clinician who can prescribe GLP-1s. The program also provides coaching and education. In May, Found launched Found for Business, a weight management program for employers that provides access to GLP-1s and coaching. Hello Alpha’s program differs, however, by focusing on women.
Ahead with Alpha takes a balanced approach to treating weight-related conditions, rather than just relying on medications or just focusing on behavior change, according to Gloria Lau, co-founder and CEO of Hello Alpha.
“We’ve treated between 50,000 to 100,000 patients for weight loss,” Lau said in an interview. “Through that, two things really stand out to me. One, a lot of these patients who come in don’t just have metabolic health issues. They have metabolic health and non-metabolic health issues like sleep disorder and mental health. … We have to take a holistic approach, which is what we think of as a traditional primary care approach. The other thing is the lack of education. … There’s a lot of media coverage on GLP-1s, a lot of celebrities on GLP-1s that brought in the interest, but a lot of confusion on the market.”
The company chose to create Ahead with Alpha after hearing a lot of interest from its customers, and felt it was important to build a program that was geared toward its female patients.
“When you think of the initial cohorts of patients interested in GLP-1s, it is primarily women. … 90% of our patients are female. When you look at them, you have a lot of patients with weight management issues plus [Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)], and PCOS that leads to infertility,” Lau said. “So we manage all of that for our patients as well.”
About 41.9% of adults in the U.S. are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When it comes to women, 27.5% are overweight and 41.9% are obese, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. In 2021, those with large employer private insurance and an obesity or overweight diagnosis had nearly $12,600 in annual health costs on average, compared to nearly $4,700 for those without a diagnosis, KFF discovered.
Hello Alpha sells its platform to employers on a per member per month basis or a monthly utilization model.
In launching Ahead with Alpha, Hello Alpha aims to ultimately help employees get the weight management support they need, and help employers provide this support.
“I don’t think the answer is categorically, ‘Hey, we’re not covering GLP-1s,’” Lau said. “I also don’t think the answer is ‘Hey, everybody, here are GLP-1s.’ It’s somewhere in the middle with a physician-led program that actually works with the employer and employee.”
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