Currently, VA offers medical care including diet counseling, weight loss programs, and blood glucose monitoring for the 1.5 million Veterans enrolled in VA health care who have Type 2 diabetes.
When a person has Type 2 diabetes, the body’s resistance to insulin — a hormone that helps move sugar into cells — causes high blood glucose levels. This, in turn, may cause other health problems, such as damage to nerves and blood vessels, increased risk of stroke or heart disease, or kidney failure.
Dr. Laurence J. Meyer, chief officer of specialty care services at VA, said that Veterans who carry excess body weight may be at risk for a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis. More than 50 percent of Veterans in VHA care are overweight or obese.
VA is exploring an innovative treatment that would offer Veterans another diabetes management option in addition to those already available in VA.
Planned partnership will benefit Veterans
VA’s Office of Specialty Care Services is exploring a partnership with Virta Health Corp., an online specialty medical clinic, to offer Veterans this option.
Virta focuses on reversing Type 2 diabetes through noninvasive treatments including dietary guidance and the use of medical specialists’ expertise, peer support, and health coaching.
Through this partnership, Virta will offer free individualized diabetes management planning to a limited number of Veterans for the length of treatment, which is typically one year. This small pilot of Veterans with non-insulin dependent type II diabetes is designed for 400 patients.
The enrollment details and instructions are still under development, and the enrollment timeline will be announced when the partnership is finalized.
The partnership with Virta would add to the current Type 2 diabetes care offered by VA. Veterans would receive continuous telehealth support from Virta’s care team, comprised of medical providers and health coaches, and close guidance in following an individualized nutrition plan based on carbohydrate restriction. This approach, Dr. Meyer says, can lead to sustained improvement in glycemic control and weight loss.
“Many Veterans have trouble managing their diabetes and blood sugar, and many struggle with their weight and sticking to any diet,” Dr. Meyer said. “This leads to a lot of functional limitations. This partnership is potentially a way that some Veterans might benefit from this care on an individual basis.”
Partnerships augment VA services
VHA’s Office of Community Engagement (OCE) is a trusted resource and catalyst for the growth of effective partnerships at the national, state, and community level, and facilitates establishment of partnerships such as this one. VHA is committed to working with Veterans to optimize their health and well-being.
Working with nongovernmental community partners supports Veterans’ freedom of choice in health care, expands access to care and services that augment what VHA offers, and exemplifies VHA’s priority of bringing Veterans quality care, wherever they are, through partnerships.
The enrollment details are still under development until the partnership is finalized. Instructions for interested providers and Veterans are forthcoming.
Learn more about OCE’s work to establish partnerships that prioritize Veterans’ health and well-being.
We encourage you to find out if you – or someone you love – is at risk for type 2 diabetes by taking this quick and simple Diabetes Risk Test.
Editor note: This blog has been updated on April 3, 2019, from an earlier version.