Virta Health is using virtual coaching and communication with health care providers to help patients reverse type 2 diabetes. Virta follows a unique approach to treating the condition through the use of ketosis, a normal response to low glucose availability, often in response to low-carb diets or fasting.
When founder Sami Inkinen was diagnosed with prediabetes despite being a triathlete, he was driven toward research that points to burning fat instead of sugar to help others suffering from the condition. Virta’s first trial consisted of a dozen obese patients and resulted in all maintaining ketosis, getting off of diabetes medications, and maintaining normal blood sugar readings.
The program is accessed through an app that provides new patients with tools to measure both blood glucose and blood ketones along with a scale. The app uses virtual coaching to transform the patient’s diet, making sure they remain in ketosis. The program also provides in-app communication with a doctor who monitors blood glucose levels and is able to de-prescribe medications when the time comes. Virta is also saving customers thousands of dollars with no upfront costs. The company only receives payment as clinical outcomes are achieved.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, type 2 diabetes makes up for 90-95% of all cases. 94% of patients who participated in Virta’s program eliminated or decreased insulin usage. 83% of participants continue the program after the first year.
Virta has also developed its own electronic medical record system. The program's app allows for remote care which is especially beneficial during the COVID-19 pandemic as diabetic patients are at a higher risk of severe symptoms and complications.
In support of its innovative approach, Virta recently announced a $133 million Series E funding round led by Tiger global. The funding will aid in continuing platform development and provide for new trials and research. Virta has also revealed that the ultimate goal is to apply its model to other chronic diseases in the future.
Inkinen said, “You have to make sure that it serves the long-term journey, as opposed to some, sort of, day trading approach. So I'm definitely taking a very long-term view and not rushing.”