VA-Virta Health partnership data reveals success with diabetes care

One in four Veterans live with type 2 diabetes. That’s more than double the rate for the general population.

For many, the diagnosis can be life changing. It can mean a lifetime of medication, painful injections, work issues and side effects. Lester, a Veteran of the Army Reserve and Army National Guard, recalls hearing the news that he had type 2 diabetes: “It felt like a life sentence. I was scared,” he said.

VA supports Veterans with Type 2 Diabetes through Virta partnership

To support Veterans with type 2 diabetes in new ways, VA’s Specialty Care Program Office has partnered with digital health provider Virta Health. The Virta treatment is designed to help people return blood sugar to normal levels while reducing the dose, number or need for diabetes medication.

Virta delivers care through a combination of telehealth in personalized nutrition, 1×1 coaching, provider supervision, peer support and a mobile application. VA has been working with Virta since May 2019 and, through this partnership, over 800 Veterans have started their journey in successful management of type 2 diabetes.

For Lester, the treatment gave him something he thought he’d lost: hope. “Before joining, I felt that I was going to end up with major health problems. I don’t think that anymore. My energy levels have gone way up, my pain levels have gone down, and I am able to focus much better. I’ve also lost weight, and never have any issues with hunger,” he said.

Results of pilot program presented at ADA scientific sessions

Virta presented preliminary data from their 2-year pilot program with VA at the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions.

Participants were able to reduce the number of prescription drugs they take by 33%, on average. Even with a reduction of medication, this corresponded to a lowering of HbA1c (a measure of blood sugar) for those participating in the Virta treatment. Forty percent were able to lower their A1c to goal or better. Participating Veterans also reduced their weight by 7%, exceeding what is considered “clinically significant.”

What’s behind these outcomes? For many, Virta’s model of care helps them adopt and maintain meaningful lifestyle changes. People living with type 2 diabetes often need to make hourly decisions about their health, so having an on-call support network through health coaches, peer support and providers can have real impact.

“My care team at Virta is so important to me. The coaches and doctors help me stay focused, and energize me when I need a boost,” Lester added.

Virta health pilot augments VA health services

VA is committed to bringing Veterans quality care, wherever they are, and it pursues partnerships that create positive impact for our Veterans with innovative technologies that augment VA’s existing services.

Although the pilot is fully enrolled, Veterans interested in participating can indicate interest at www.virtahealth.com/Veterans. For information on VA health care, visit www.va.gov/health.


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