GLP-1 Market: The Once-in-a-Lifetime Business Opportunity for Digital Health Behavioral Change Solutions

The GLP-1 market is poised for unprecedented growth over the next five years, presenting a unique opportunity for digital health solutions focused on behavior change. As forecasts predict multi-billion-dollar revenues, the landscape of chronic disease management, particularly obesity, is undergoing a profound shift. Payers are increasingly hesitant to cover lifelong drug treatments, emphasizing the need for effective behavior change programs. This sets the stage for digital health solutions to shine, offering scalable interventions that empower users to transform their lifestyles and improve their health outcomes.

The GLP-1 Market: A Booming Opportunity:

GLP-1-based therapies have emerged as promising treatments for obesity and diabetes, offering significant weight loss benefits and improved glycemic control. With the market projected to grow in the coming years, driven by the increasing prevalence of these conditions, pharmaceutical companies have been investing heavily in developing and marketing GLP-1 agonists. However, the sustainability of this growth trajectory faces challenges, particularly regarding payer willingness to cover lifelong medication expenses.

The Payer Perspective:

Payers, including insurers and healthcare systems, are becoming increasingly discerning when it comes to covering pharmaceutical treatments, especially for chronic conditions like obesity and diabetes. The prospect of funding lifelong drug regimens for large populations is financially daunting and raises concerns about long-term sustainability. The reluctance of health insurers is despite the predicted cost reductions due to the elimination of secondary diseases such as diabetes, knee problems, or psychological problems due to weight loss among millions of GLP 1 users. The problem for health insurance companies is always the same when it comes to prevention offers. The costs are actually incurred now, whereas the savings can only be realized in the distant future and then not with any certainty. In addition, success depends largely on the willingness of GLP-1 users to permanently change their behavior (regular intake, eating habits, exercise).

As a result, payers are seeking cost-effective alternatives that address the root causes of these conditions and promote sustainable behavior change.

Digital Behavioral Change: The Missing Piece:

While medical interventions like medications and surgeries play crucial roles in managing obesity and diabetes, they often fall short of addressing the root causes of these conditions. Behavior change lies at the heart of effective disease management, encompassing lifestyle modifications such as diet, exercise, stress management, and adherence to treatment plans. However, changing behaviors is notoriously challenging, requiring ongoing support, motivation, and personalized guidance.

Capturing the Opportunity:

The convergence of the booming GLP-1 market and the growing demand for behavior change solutions creates a once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity for digital health companies that offer behavioral change support. By aligning with payer priorities and demonstrating the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of their interventions, these companies can position themselves as indispensable partners in the fight against obesity and diabetes.

Leading digital weight management solution providers already started to offer companion solutions for GLP-1 patients. (see also R2G article: Are GLP-1 Apps the Breakthrough for Companion Solutions?)

  • Vida expanded via GLP-1 prescription and de-prescription services incl. coaching and behavior change support. (Feb 23)
  • Omada Health launched a GLP-1 specific program against chronic obesity, supporting behavior and lifestyle changes. (May 23)
  • DarioHealth started a GLP-1 behavior change program to achieve weight loss goals and drive long-term behavior change. (Aug 23)
  • Lark announced the GLP-1 Companion program incl. side effect management and adherence support. (Sep 23)
  • Noom Med was launched for clinical obesity incl. behavior change programs reducing reliance on GLP-1 drugs. (Oct 23)
  • Oviva to offer weight loss programs incl. prescript. and tracking GLP-1 adherence as part of the NICE EVA program. (Oct 23)
  • WeightWatchers GLP-1 program provides individualized behavioral change support to people taking a GLP-1 medication. (Dec 23)

Digital behavioral change solution providers should immediately size the market opportunity for them within their regional focus areas. Although some of the major digital weight loss providers have already jumped on the bandwagon, there is still enough potential for the thousands of behavioral change providers worldwide.

Providers should concentrate on three areas:

  • Before a GLP-1 prescription: Payers will require their members to undertake a 3-6 months behavior change before prescribing GLP-1 medication. In addition to the standard features for weight loss, there are additional reporting services for the payer.
  • While taking the first months: For this, the offers would have to be redesigned as a bundle solution. In addition to behavioral changes, the app would also have to take care of logistics.
  • Refresher programs: Offers should be designed to ensure that GLP-1 patients are motivated from time to time to maintain the new eating behavior and also to take medication regularly. Incentive programs or gamification approaches can be used for this.

With these programs and mostly limited adaptations of existing solutions, there is significant market potential for digital weight loss and behavior change-supporting solutions. Due to the expected level of competition, 2024 is probably the latest date by which the solutions should be ready to go.

The GLP-1 market represents a significant business opportunity for digital health solutions that can support behavior change among individuals with obesity and diabetes. By offering scalable, personalized interventions that empower users to make lasting lifestyle changes, digital health companies can position themselves as key players in the evolving landscape of chronic disease management. As payers increasingly prioritize cost-effective, sustainable solutions, the time is right for digital health innovators to seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and make a meaningful impact on global health.

Research2Guidance has been continuously monitoring the global digital health industry since 2010. The team provides support to established healthcare companies and startups with insights, strategic advice, and hands-on partnership building. To discuss further reach out to us: [email protected]