Ilant Health-Comprehensive Weight Loss and Obesity Treatment
Ilant Health recently raised $3M in initial funding backed by a number of angel investors including Nick Loporcaro, President & CEO of Global Medical Response; Brandon Kerns, CFO of CareBridge, Russell Street Ventures, and Main Street Health; Matt Klitus, CFO of Lyra Health; Ivah Romm Founding CEO of Cityblock Health and current Cityblock board member; Dr. Sylvia Romm, Founder of Sounder Health and David Werry, Co-founder & President at Well.
According to a recent analysis by Trusit Securities, the market for weight management employer solutions is projected to be nearly $700M by 2024 with the potential to grow to $6B-$B over the longer-term
Approximately 42% of the U.S. population has obesity1, with more than 200 diseases associated with this condition (Milliman)
Real-world analysis of GLP-1 obesity treatment conducted by two PBMs found that [only] 32% of members on GLP-1 treatment were persistent at one year, and [only] 27% of those” stayed on therapy for the following year (Prime Therapeutics & Magellan Rx Management)
19.3% of U.S. youth (aged 2–19 years) were classified as obese, 6.1% had severe obesity, and 16.1% were overweight (NHANES)
Ilant was founded by Elina Onitskansky, the former senior vice president and head of strategy at Molina Healthcare, after years of her own struggles with her weight and weight loss. As Onitskansky noted on the firm’s website, “I [had] tried just about everything out there – from working with nutritionists to diets and meal replacements to daily exercise and personal training to weight loss resorts…I would lose weight only to see it come back and then some.” It was only after she referred herself into a bariatric procedure that she had sustained success and decided to found Ilant.
As Onitskansky noted to Fierce Healthcare, prior to that she often felt unheard or judged by doctors who “assumed she had yet to try basic changes like diet or exercise” often facing a refrain of “why didn’t I try eating more salads” walking more? Or …just try harder?” Moreover, as she noted on Ilant’s website, even after she had lost the weight, Onitskansky was “ashamed [to tell people she] hadn’t been strong enough to ‘do it on her own’ because it “was hard to overcome years of shame and stigma”. As a result, Ilant was born “out of the desire to use [her] experience as a healthcare executive and as an obesity patient to improve care for others.”
What distinguishes Ilant’s model is that its goal is to be a “single front door” for patients to assess and access obesity treatments that they access through employers and health plans not direct to consumers.
For patients, Ilant seeks to deliver holistic, individualized, evidence-based, integrated treatment. This involves evaluating treatments via what the company calls Ilant Metabolism Matters, to match clients to the right treatment. According to the company, this evidence-based algorithm accounts for the “medical, behavioral, and social determinants of health considerations'' of patients and evaluates treatments along the entire treatment spectrum from “intensive behavioral therapy to pharmacotherapy (including all potential medications, not just GLP-1s), to bariatric surgery”. Ilant combines these services with access to doctors trained in obesity, mental health professionals, nutritionists, and others to treat them holistically and help them succeed.
For employers and payers, Ilant applies an analytics engine it terms Ilant Rapid Returns, that addresses what it says is the historic undercoding of obesity and impact of obesity treatment. As noted in the aforementioned Fierce Healthcare article, this helps match “individuals to the treatment most likely to drive outcomes and value for them” while taking into account the physical, emotional and social factors that may impact patients. Ilant intends to work with commercial, Medicare and Medicaid insurers but has not announced any partnerships to date. In addition, according to the company they intend to pursue a value-based care approach where they take both one-sided (shared savings) and two-sided (shared savings and loss) on patients.
The Big Picture :
According to data from the CDC and Milliman, approximately 42% of the U.S. population has obesity1, with more than 200 diseases associated with this condition. Moreover, according to data from two recent studies, the average cost of care was 100% higher for obese patients with obesity than for nonobese with the health care costs related to obesity accounting for 21% of total national healthcare spending in the United States. This problem is of particular concern when it comes to youth and adolescents. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) indicated that 19.3% of U.S. youth (aged 2–19 years) were classified as obese, 6.1% had severe obesity, and 16.1% were overweight.
While the recent publicity and study data around the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) drugs for diabetes have raised hope that they could be prescribed as a solution for weight loss, these drugs are not a panacea for those struggling to deal with weight loss issues. For example, as noted in Milliman’s report “Payer Strategies for GLP-1’s for Weight Loss”, these drugs “ must be taken consistently and long-term to achieve and maintain weight loss benefits and patients who discontinue use after a few initial doses or are inconsistent with their dosing will likely not see any material health benefits…”. The study went on to note “a recent real-world analysis of GLP-1 obesity treatment conducted by two pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) found that [only] 32% of members on treatment were persistent at one year, and [only] 27% of those” stayed on therapy for an additional year. Given data such as this it does appear that while GLP-1s may be appropriate for some, due to their side effect profiles and persistency issues, they are unlikely to be appropriate or effective for many.
As a result, we believe that there remains a large and robust market for solutions like Ilant Health that create a continuum of treatment options and provide broad-based support for patients. According to a recent analysis by Trusit Securities, the market for weight management employer solutions is projected to be nearly $700M by 2024 with the potential to grow to $6B-$9B over the longer term. In addition, while employers and payers will undoubtedly have to cover GLP-1 drugs for certain patients, we do expect them to require patients to pursue other treatment protocols like those offered by Illant and competitors before approving GLP-1 usage as a last resort. While weight loss management is a crowded field, with competitors ranging from publicly traded WW, to Vida, Noom and Wondr Health, we do believe that a substantial market opportunity remains for clinically proven, evidence-based weight management companies.