A Dubai-based health tech startup has partnered with Novo Nordisk to launch what is believed to be one of the first trials of a value-based reimbursement model in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
GluCare.Health – named among the 50 most funded startups in the region by Forbes Middle East to $20 million – and the Danish multinational pharmaceutical company will launch its partnership with a pilot weight management program for 150 patients in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Scheduled to begin in September 2022, the aim of the trial is to study the treatment outcomes of hands-on patient care and data-driven remote care, compared to traditional models practiced in the country.
THE WIDER CONTEXT
Integrating new digital biomarkers with existing therapies, GluCare.Health’s six-month program would involve a multidisciplinary clinical team, including a health coach, nutritionist, nurse or patient educator, and endocrinologist. The startup’s wearables and continuous remote data monitoring will form the digital aspect.
“Novo Nordisk UAE will provide the pharmacological component of the weight management program, putting its share of the project cost at risk, which means it will reimburse – along with GluCare.Health – the cost of the program to the patient if the performance indicators keys to weight reduction are not achieved,” said Ihsan Almarzooqi, co-founder and CEO of GluCare.Health. Health Informatics News. “This type of reimbursement is not common in the pharmaceutical industry, and it is a new approach for Novo Nordisk UAE. Through this partnership, Novo Nordisk both validates the program and participates in the value-based approach to healthcare that we have long advocated.
Subject to minimum requirements “in terms of commitment and adherence to protocols 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 his body weight at the end of the test.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT
According to the company, the pilot program could be “widely adopted to potentially save the UAE economy up to $3.6 billion annually.”
Ali Hashemi, co-founder and president of GluCare.Health, explained, “Obesity management is not usually covered by insurance companies in the UAE, but serious obesity-related comorbidities obesity or caused by it is a huge burden. These include sleep apnea, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, pre-diabetes, osteoarthritis, among others.
He continued: “These downstream conditions add to the estimated cost of $3.6 billion a year in the UAE alone, and the risk ultimately rests with employers and society. If obesity itself were considered a disease, and its treatment were commonplace and routinely paid for, weight reduction would have a significant cascading effect on downstream costs to the healthcare system.
Almarzooqi added, “We expect Novo Nordisk UAE to experience better results from the use of its innovative treatments. GluCare.Health will report and publish the results of this study when completed. They will also benefit from new data that we use as part of our continuous care model, such as digital biomarkers and engagement data that our proprietary platform captures.
“Typical obesity programs and existing literature do not contain this type of ‘hyper-personalized and ongoing’ information. These new datasets will complement routine datasets such as lab and clinical results. Combining the two sets, along with the “pay-at-risk model,” can provide a blueprint for how future obesity programs are adopted and paid for more widely by payers. »
“Obesity is a complex and serious chronic disease associated with many other health problems, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancers,” said Mads Bo Larsen, vice president and general manager of Novo Nordisk in the United Arab Emirates. “Over the past 30 years, the prevalence of obesity in the United Arab Emirates has almost tripled and this trend threatens health systems, economies and the lives of individuals.
“It is well documented that obesity management 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 transformational weight loss program, driven by cutting-edge therapies like Novo Nordisk’s, is two things. First, the cost of treatments can be prohibitive, and second, for a certain portion of patients, their metabolic system simply won’t respond.
“Faced with these barriers, it can sometimes be difficult for patients to commit to spending on these therapies and services. Providing an outcome-based mechanism to essentially guarantee this risk to patients helps lower 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 ‘guarantee or your money back’ models that consumers are already used to when it comes to purchasing goods and services. It just hasn’t been widely used in healthcare because providers and pharmaceutical companies didn’t want to put themselves at risk in this way.
The GluCare.Health weight management program is open to individuals who are considered obese based on a BMI of 30 and above, or with a BMI of 27 and above with at least one weight-related comorbidity. Those interested in applying can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and requesting the “at risk” obesity program.