Two orthogonal visions for U.S. health care: You get what you pay for
Dozens of health care insiders and outsiders approached me asking “what do you think of this large Teladoc acquisition and does it change your view on Virta Health’s strategy and vision?” I thought I’d save time and write my answer once, here.
In summary: you get what you pay for. The future we believe in at Virta is orthogonal to the conventional approach in the business of U.S. health care. We have no reason to change our vision of the future. What exactly do I mean?
As proudly reported in the press, “For the revenue synergies, we are going to start cross-selling to our existing clients as early as next week”, this large acquisition/merger is about the business of health care. It’s about maximizing distribution, cross-selling more stuff to each others’ customers as quickly as possible. That is, to best of my knowledge, more telemedicine visits, more glucometers and more testing strips sent to people (with diabetes) who want them and anything else that the enterprise customers might be willing to pay for. That will likely work and the industrial logic for increased revenues seems rational. Nice.
So what about Virta? We have a very orthogonal view on the future of health care, why we exist and even what we are “selling” to the health care industry. Simply, that is, making people healthy. More specifically, we aim to reverse Type 2 diabetes in 100 Million people. And we only want to be compensated for making people healthy (i.e. achieving measurable patient outcomes). We exist to solve a problem and help people become healthy. And we put our money where our mouth is. We don’t exist to sell (more) stuff to customers willing to buy it. We think this is the right thing to do.
To elaborate on that, this is our foundation and I don’t see any reason to change that:
- Measurably improved health for millions of people—we don’t just focus on managing Type 2 Diabetes (T2D), or helping people live with the disease or remind them to take their meds. While we help every one of our patients, our primary goal is to reverse T2D. That is possible at scale thanks to our provider-led continuous remote care platform, offering 24x7 support multiple times a day per patient and individualizing our treatments to the N=1, each patient. Virta is not about selling tools to live with a disease, we are about making patients so healthy they can eliminate the need for T2D medications, such as insulin. (peer-reviewed clinical trial results demonstrating just that)
- Lower cost of care — it’s one thing to say a solution will/might/should lower some part of cost of care if well done. While it’s pretty obvious that eliminating a chronic disease, such as T2D and related costly medications saves money, our business model is such that we only get paid for results. We at Virta are economically incentivized to help people become healthy, not sell “more stuff” to get paid for more.
- Better personal experience — Almost everyone in health care claims to make users/patients/members happier and better. We reverse chronic diseases, such as T2D, fully remotely by meeting our patients where they are, physically and emotionally. That outcome alone is positively life changing in itself. Just imagine being able to stop sticking an insulin needle into your body multiple times a day after doing that for decades. In fact, my favorite example of a delightful patient is the Virta patient who tattoo’ed our company logo on her body after we reversed her T2D.
Some people call that the triple aim (better results, lower cost, better experience). I don’t see a reason to change our strategy or vision of the future of health care: it’s about better patient outcomes, lower cost and much better patient experience. All at the same time. And that and only that is what we get paid for.
A company that is incentivized to sell more “stuff”, will sell more “stuff”. (That’s how most of our economy works — it’s just not a great foundation for the future of better health care.)
There’s room for many models and offerings in health care, but we remain focused on being the diabetes experts with the focus on reversing the disease and only getting paid for results. That’s the vision of better health care we’ve been creating at Virta health since Day One. No change needed there. In fact, I’d hope that more people and companies would follow our example. Please consider replicating this model … and/or join our team!