How healthtech is helping to battle global obesity

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Over 1 billion people in the world live with obesity, and health systems are failing these patients, with most living at a hugely increased risk of devastating complications whilst concurrently having limited, if any, access to specialist, chronic care. Obesity is one of, if not the number one, healthcare challenge of our time.

Obesity, diabetes, and many other chronic health conditions are crippling global healthcare systems—by some projections, more than 50% of the world will be obese or overweight by 2035. Yet the solution cannot happen in the doctor’s office alone—for the sheer number of patients we are talking about, we need to put behavioural care and access to the correct pharmaceutical, nutritional, and other physical interventions in a patient’s hand. I don’t think we’ll ever be able to remove the clinician from the equation entirely, but healthtech can help to make their human touch more effective and more scalable.

Fundamentally the reason for the obesity epidemic isn’t the ability to lose weight in the first place—it is the difficulty of changing habits, and therefore maintaining a healthy weight. Part of the problem is that obesity has traditionally been treated with singular, time-limited solutions, when in fact obesity is a chronic condition which needs to be managed longitudinally, over the course of a patient’s entire life.

Patients need a long-term, multi-modal approach to weight management—and the only way to provide that to the billions of people with obesity is via digital, scalable care. What that means is being a patient’s trusted partner in the long term and helping them identify which solution(s)—both digital and physical—will best support them on their personal journey. Due to the huge volume of patients, traditional, clinic-based healthcare systems are limited in how much support they can offer.

At Habitual we offer comprehensive solutions that empowers individuals with the tools needed to achieve better metabolic health.

We give our patients access to software that enables them to be supported daily, including bite-sized content, tracking, journaling, and community features. Our multimodal solution combines pharmacological, nutritional, psychological, and behavioural approaches and is tailored to the individual needs of every patient. This helps them not only think about nutrition, but also consider other factors such as physical habits, mental health, and sleep.

With the size of the obesity epidemic, the only way to deliver the care needed at scale is to build digital-first solutions. Here are some of the ways that healthtech is helping to build the future of obesity care:

Online prescribing – if we are going to prescribe weight loss medications widely, as many expect to happen, we will need the infrastructure for online prescribing to hold up to high standards in terms of patient safety and data protection.

Digital pharmacy infrastructure – Digital pharmacies can increase accessibility and convenience for patients undergoing a medicated weight loss treatment. Particularly for patients who continue on a weight loss medication for an extended period of time, digital pharmacies can play a key role in allowing for increased adherence.

Telemedicine consultations – As we increasingly regard obesity as a health, rather than lifestyle, condition, we will need multidisciplinary teams to help patients navigate life with the disease. Our healthcare systems cannot handle this patient load, particularly in person, so telemedicine will have a huge role to play in triaging patients and the resulting treatment they receive.

Digital behavioural care – Weight loss medications are only one part of the solution. Any patient taking a weight loss medication should also be engaging in behavioural care and habit change to practice healthier nutritional, mental, and physical habits. Effective digital behavioural solutions are needed to go alongside these medications.

The team at Habitual believe the only way to provide the right care to make a significant change to the huge number of patients who need it is with a holistic, digital approach which is why healthtech is critical to helping battle this ever-growing global problem.

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