Morgan Health: 3 things employers should focus on to manage GLP-1s

Demand remains high for GLP-1 drugs, and the experts at Morgan Health are aiming to support employers in managing that interest with a new report.

The organization, which is the healthcare-focused arm of banking giant JPMorgan Chase, hosted a panel at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference last week on the topic, where it introduced several recommendations for firms to prepare for the ongoing interest in GLP-1s.

Morgan Health CEO Dan Mendelson told Fierce Healthcare that the challenge is to provide access to the drugs while ensuring that they're part of an overall care management strategy for diabetes and obesity.

"This is amazing technology, and our employees want it," he said. "And we want to make sure they have access to it."

"We don't want them to be seen as kind of like this casual thing that you just experiment with for a month," Mendelson said. "It's really got to be part of a bigger picture."

Taking a fresh look at programs around obesity management is step one, according to the report. Because it requires significant clinical input and support, primary care providers are well-positioned to be key partners in managing obesity.

However, most physicians lack substantial training in obesity care, and they may lack key skills in addressing patients' needs. In addition, doctors are already swamped and may not have the time to provide complex care management to obese patients, according to the report.

Deploying advanced primary care models, in which care teams support the physician in managing the patients' care, will be critical, according to the report.

"My hope and expectation is that medical schools take this more seriously going forward and that there are more training programs to make sure that we are training clinicians, both physicians and nurses, in the appropriate use of those drugs," Mendelson said.

In addition, employers can lean on pharmacy benefit managers and other partners to ensure that they're able to provide the drugs appropriately. These products can be pricey, and it's still unclear whether patients can maintain results when they stop taking GLP-1s.

Employers should also lean on value-based arrangements with pharmaceutical manufacturers when possible to manage costs, especially as data continues to lag on what the long-term outlook is for patients taking GLP-1s.

"Many employers face pushback when seeking to utilize novel outcomes-based payment models that require longitudinal patient engagement, when turnover rates, especially in the private sector, remain high," the authors wrote.

Mendelson said companies like Morgan Health will continue to examine the most effective ways to develop and deploy these models.

"We're ot done generating research in this area, and in fact, we're just kind of at the beginning," he said.