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Top 5 Telemedicine Solutions for Weight Loss

Written by Andrew Le, MD

UpdatedFebruary 28, 2024

In the US, the COVID-19 pandemic worsened obesity challenges, with mandatory stay-at-home orders causing heightened anxiety and depression, hindering weight loss efforts.

In response, numerous weight management programs shifted to virtual healthcare. A study found that patients on anti-obesity medications, monitored for six months through video or a hybrid of video and in-person visits, achieved significant and clinically meaningful weight loss.

This remote approach offers a secure alternative, potentially expanding access to treatment, especially for hard-to-reach populations. Statistics show a 13% increase in telemedicine adoption in rural areas and a 12% increase among those aged 55 and above in 2022.

As the shift to telemedicine gains momentum, many providers have emerged. In this article, we will explore the best telemedicine options for weight loss, providing you with the insights needed to make informed decisions and achieve your weight loss goals.

How Telemedicine Works

Telemedicine refers to using digital communication technologies to provide medical care, consultations, and health-related services remotely. It allows patients to receive healthcare services through various digital platforms, such as video calls, phone calls, messaging apps, and online portals.

It involves a wide range of medical services, including consultations, diagnoses, treatment planning, prescription management, monitoring of health conditions, and even surgical procedures in some cases. Telemedicine addresses various medical needs, from routine check-ups and minor illnesses to specialized care for chronic or complex medical cases.

Efficacy of Telemedicine for Weight Loss

Several articles on telemedicine for weight loss highlight its potential effectiveness. Telemedicine delivers healthcare services and support for individuals working to manage and reduce their weight.

An analysis of 23 studies conducted between 2010 and 2017 explored the application of technology, such as telemedicine, in obesity management. Among the studies, 60% reported positive outcomes, indicating a connection between technology utilization and weight loss.

In another study, sedentary adults were divided into three groups: videoconferencing, in-person, and a control group. The results showed that the videoconferencing group achieved greater weight loss (7.7% body weight) than the in-person group (3.4% body weight).

Bariatric surgery is a successful treatment for weight loss, but only 40% of patients attend the required annual follow-up visits. A review on the use of telemedicine for delivering healthcare to bariatric surgery patients was conducted.

Those who completed the program lost 5.1% of their body weight at the end and a small additional amount at 3 months' follow-up. This suggests telemedicine could be a viable approach for delivering healthcare services to individuals who have undergone bariatric surgery.

Advantages Of Using Telemedicine For Weight Loss

There are several potential benefits of utilizing telemedicine for weight loss. Below are some of the advantages telemedicine can provide.

Access to Specialists

Telemedicine seamlessly facilitates referrals to healthcare professionals and specialists, including doctors specializing in medical weight loss, dietitians, psychologists, and exercise physiologists.

Medical Assessment

Healthcare professionals can comprehensively assess the patient's health through telemedicine, including factors such as BMI (Body Mass Index), existing medical conditions, medications, and other relevant information.

Nutritional Guidance

Telemedicine platforms can offer nutritional counseling and guidance, helping patients make healthier food choices, plan balanced meals, and develop sustainable eating habits.

Experts conducted a study on nutrition through video calls or phone sessions for men aged 40–70. Some received regular care, while others had weekly video or phone coaching. Those in the video/phone group were likelier to lose 5% of body weight than those who received regular care.

Exercise and Activity Recommendations

Healthcare providers can recommend suitable physical activities and exercise routines tailored to the patient's circumstances, preferences, and physical limitations.

Monitoring and Tracking

Patients can use digital tools and apps to track their progress, including weight, body measurements, physical activity, and dietary intake. This information can be shared with healthcare professionals for continuous evaluation and modifications to the treatment plan.

🎉 Fun Fact

In a literature review of 23 studies, mobile devices, like phone apps and texts, were the most prevalent technology for obesity management, accounting for 48% of the studies. Telehealth and telemedicine components were used in 22%, eHealth via websites and online programs in 26%, and wearable devices in 4.3% of the studies.

Illustration of a healthcare provider asking questions on a smart phone.
Virtual weight loss solution
A personalized GLP-1 medication program delivered to you via our partner Korb Health
Illustration of a healthcare provider asking questions on a smart phone.
  • Free consultation; program starts at $269/mo
  • Checkmark Inside Circle.Customized online program and wellness coaching
  • Prescription medications and supplies shipped to your door

Peer Support Group and Counseling

Telemedicine may include peer support groups and counseling sessions, addressing the emotional and psychological dimensions of the weight loss journey. This may involve strategies to manage stress, emotional eating, and other factors that can impact weight management.

Research indicates that men often associate activities like dieting with femininity and feel limited social support for weight loss from their male peers. Consequently, many men find online social support beneficial, including forums and social media.

Medication Management

Telemedicine providers may prescribe medications, such as Ozempic, for weight loss. They are responsible for monitoring the medication's effectiveness and potential side effects. Research findings indicate that individuals who use prescription medications can achieve a weight loss of 10% or more from their initial body weight.

Top 5 Telemedicine Solutions for Weight Loss

Finding the perfect telemedicine provider for your weight loss journey can pose challenges. To assist you, we've researched and compiled a thorough guide outlining the most effective telemedicine solutions tailored for weight management.

Our evaluation criteria include:

  • Expertise and effectiveness of virtual consultations
  • User feedback and reviews
  • Cost considerations
  • Comprehensive assessment of available services
  • Additional features and support

If you're looking for the best telemedicine solutions for weight loss, take a look at our curated recommendations below!

Korb Health

Korb Health is a start-up from Austin, Texas that offers the most convenient and medically conservative GLP-1 weight loss service. Korb’s medical team, led by Dr. Scott Worrich MD, prescribes the lowest possible dose and slowly titrates upwards until the patient is losing the optimal amount of weight per week. According to Dr. Worrich, they have not had a single patient quit the program due to unwanted side effects. This is in stark contrast to other practices who increase the dosage of GLP-1 agonists quickly, optimizing for impact instead of safety.

In addition to GLP-1 agonist medications, Korb also offers:

  • Wellness coaching
  • Monthly telehealth visits
  • Additional wellness programs as add-ons

Pros

  • Low cost for both medication and telemedicine ($269 per month)
  • Medically conservative management
  • Strong safety track record
  • Wholistic approach including coaching and other wellness programs

Cons

  • Does not accept insurance
  • Relatively new entrant in the space
Teladoc Health

Teladoc Health offers a comprehensive telemedicine solution for weight loss and diabetes prevention. The platform optimizes medications such as Glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1) agonists and Sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors.

For $75, you can access a suite of features, including:

  • weight trend monitoring
  • direct messaging with coaches
  • report sharing with doctors
  • food logging via photos
  • goal setting
  • progress tracking

Furthermore, essential tools such as activity tracking, sleep management, and stress and mental health tools are provided – all crucial for cardiometabolic health.

The company emphasizes evidence-based guidelines and clinically appropriate treatment plans to address obesity and reduce the risk of diabetes. They’re also one of the first telehealth providers in the US, maintaining a favorable rating among physicians and patients.

Moreover, Teladoc Health boasts an 86% success rate, with an average weight loss of 6.3% and a 2.3 average BMI reduction.

🎉 Fun Fact

The initial discovery of GLP-1's blood sugar-regulating properties came from studying the saliva of a venomous lizard called the Gila monster, native to the southwestern United States. This led to the development of exenatide, a GLP-1 agonist used to treat diabetes.

Pros

  • Offers a holistic solution to weight management and diabetes prevention.
  • Proven success.
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) compliant.
  • Among the first telehealth companies in the US.
  • Fees can be as low as $0 with insurance.
  • Facilitates connections to in-network labs or facilities.
  • Employs evidence-based guidelines and clinically appropriate treatment plans.
  • Excellent Trustpilot ratings (4.8 out of 5)
  • Appointments are accessible around the clock, seven days a week.

Cons

  • Appointments can become costly if not covered by insurance.
  • Some customer reviews on BBB express concerns about extended wait times, misleading advertising, and unprofessional interactions with doctors.
  • Setting up an account can be time-consuming.
PlushCare

PlushCare provides effective prescription medications and personalized treatment plans overseen by board-certified doctors from the top 50 medical institutions in the US. Their weight loss journey begins with a consultation and evaluation. This includes discussing treatment goals and considering prescription medications if medically necessary.

The initial appointment costs $129 for out-of-pocket payments, with subsequent follow-up costing $99 for members and $129 for non-members. Insurance coverage is accepted, with a standard copay of approximately $30. PlushCare accommodates major insurance providers, including Humana, Aetna, and United Healthcare.

For added value, PlushCare recommends membership, available at $14.99 per month. Members can enjoy benefits like:

  • Same-day appointments
  • Unlimited messages with your Care Team
  • Prescription discount card (save up to 80% at over 50,000 pharmacies nationwide)
  • Exclusive discounts on lab tests
  • Free memberships for your family
  • Cancel anytime

Furthermore, PlushCare offers a free 30-day membership trial. When booking the first appointment, users are automatically enrolled in the membership program, enjoying complimentary benefits for 30 days, which can be canceled at any time.

Pros

  • Access to FDA-approved weight loss medications.
  • Offers support in obtaining prior authorizations for insurance coverage.
  • Evaluation by board-certified primary care physicians.
  • Continuous monitoring by the care team, even after achieving weight loss goals.
  • PlushCare guarantees a full refund if they cannot address your needs.
  • Offers free 30-day membership trial.
  • A single membership can cover five adults and all children.
  • HIPAA compliant.
  • Accredited by the BBB.

Cons

  • Some branded weight loss medications require prior authorization.
  • Not all insurance plans may cover weight loss medications.
  • Medication expenses can approach $1000 per month for those without insurance coverage.
Found

Found, established in 2020 by Emily Yudofsky and Jack Abraham, takes a holistic approach to weight care, prioritizing long-term, sustainable solutions. The company addresses various aspects of an individual's well-being, including biology, nutrition, sleep, stress management, and mental health.

On average, Found members experience meaningful progress, losing 5% of their body weight by the third month and an impressive 10% by the sixth month, demonstrating the program's effectiveness. Found has helped over 200,000 individuals aiming to shed pounds.

Cost varies based on commitment length, ranging from $89 to $119 monthly. Medication costs are included, except for GLP-1 medications and additional expenses for lab work if required. Unfortunately, Found doesn't take health insurance for membership payments.

💡 Did You Know?

Found’s Chief of Medical Affairs is also the former Medical Director of the American Board of Obesity Medicine, contributing to the credibility of its weight care programs.

Pros

  • A personalized and adaptable program designed for lasting and sustainable outcomes.
  • Access to a physician and FDA-approved medication.
  • Availability of a personal coach employing positive psychology and habit-forming approaches.
  • Access to a community sharing similar objectives.
  • HIPAA compliant.

Cons

  • Currently available in 31 states only.
  • Their program without prescription medications is currently unavailable, reducing options for those not requiring prescriptions.
  • Does not offer a trial period or a money-back guarantee.
  • Does not accept insurance.
  • Mixed customer review ratings on Trustpilot.

📰 Helpful Article

If you need quick medical help online, Buoy Health has additional recommendations. Learn more in these articles.

Alfie

Alfie is a telehealth program that stands out as a virtual obesity management clinic employing AI. Founded in 2022 by Alexander Singh and Rohit Rustagi, Alfie has demonstrated promising results, with a 300-person cohort achieving an average weight loss of 10 to 15% in nine months.

They accept most insurances, including FSA/HSA, and charge $120/month for those without coverage. Currently available in several states, including:

  • District of Columbia
  • Maryland
  • Virginia
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • California
  • Florida
  • Texas

The clinic utilizes a tool they’ve created called ObesityRx. It analyzes medical history, lab results, and responses to validated surveys to understand what might be causing your weight gain. With this tool, they generate a Metabolic Profile and place individuals into different percentiles across four main categories, each linked to various metabolic factors contributing to weight gain.

Pros

  • Offers weight management plans aligned with individual biology.
  • Utilizes advanced technology and clinically validated surveys to optimize weight loss strategies.
  • Accepts most insurance plans and allows payment through FSA/HSA.
  • Provides ongoing support with a team of specialists and health coaches.
  • Backed by funding and successful internal study.
  • HIPAA compliant.
  • Provides live chat support.

Cons

  • Expensive compared to other telemedicine providers.
  • Currently available in selected states only.
  • New player in the telemedicine space.

Final Thoughts

Among the telemedicine providers featured in this article, Teladoc Health has stood out as a top choice, showcasing an impressive 86% success rate in weight loss, and highlighting its efficacy. PlushCare, on the other hand, has distinguished itself with a great membership model, including exclusive discounts.

Despite insurance coverage and trial period limitations, Found has remained a compelling choice for individuals seeking holistic weight management strategies. Korb has recently entered the market and shows promise with a combined wellness and medication approach. Lastly, Alfie has positioned itself as an innovative virtual obesity management clinic employing AI.

Choosing a telemedicine provider that aligns with specific health goals has been crucial for optimal results. It's always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

FAQs on Telemedicine For Weight Loss

What happens if I experience technical issues during a telemedicine weight loss appointment?

Telemedicine platforms usually have support mechanisms in place for technical difficulties. It's advised to familiarize yourself with the platform before appointments and contact customer support for assistance if needed.

Can telemedicine assist in overcoming weight loss plateaus?

Yes, telemedicine strategies are designed to address plateaus, providing insights to adapt plans for continued progress in weight loss.

How do telemedicine weight loss programs accommodate busy schedules?

Telemedicine platforms feature flexible scheduling options, catering to individuals with busy lifestyles for convenient adherence to weight loss plans.

Can telemedicine visits for weight loss also help address specific health conditions?

Yes, telemedicine programs can tailor weight loss approaches to manage underlying health conditions, providing a comprehensive and personalized solution.

Can telemedicine visits for weight loss replace traditional in-person doctor visits completely?

Telemedicine visits for weight loss can be a convenient and effective alternative, but its suitability depends on individual health needs. It's essential to discuss this with a healthcare provider.

Illustration of a healthcare provider asking questions on a smart phone.
Virtual weight loss solution
A personalized GLP-1 medication program delivered to you via our partner Korb Health
Illustration of a healthcare provider asking questions on a smart phone.
  • Free consultation; program starts at $269/mo
  • Checkmark Inside Circle.Customized online program and wellness coaching
  • Prescription medications and supplies shipped to your door