Utilizing step therapy and de-escalation to manage costs while optimizing weight health

As the demand for GLP-1 medications increases, balancing costs and weight health needs is a priority. Here's a look at how WeightWatchers for Business helps clients find the right balance.

Utilizing step therapy and de-escalation to manage costs while optimizing weight health



With the demand for GLP-1 medications on the rise, there is an urgent need for weight health platforms to step in and help make these medications more accessible where appropriate. WeightWatchers for Business (WW4B) provides today’s employers, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), and health plan buyers with access to a product that treats individuals at every stage of the weight health spectrum on a personal level — while also employing strategies to effectively keep medication costs under control. 

Here’s how WeightWatchers for Business provides members with the resources and support they need to achieve sustainable weight loss results, including appropriate use of expensive medications.

How WeightWatchers for Business
controls costs

WeightWatchers for Business employs the following core strategies to successfully keep costs down for employers and members — and still deliver long-term results: 

  1. Individualized solutions
    Because we recognize that each member is on a unique weight health journey, we purposefully curate a portfolio of tools to support each person. We know we can optimize weight health across the spectrum by serving individuals from low- to high-acuity. Individuals receive a targeted experience that includes behavioral change and clinical support based on their weight health needs and goals – whether they are looking for healthier eating habits or more nutrient-dense choices if on a GLP-1 medication. 

    For example, our individualized behavior programs include the GLP-1 Program that focuses on optimizing health during weight loss for those on a second-generation GLP-1 medication by emphasizing protein intake, fruits and vegetables, hydration, and activity. We also provide access to a GLP-1-specific community where members can connect with others on a medication journey and share mutual experiences, including how to manage side effects, along with 24/7 access to live coaches throughout GLP-1 use and to support their journey if they decide to de-escalate. Alternatively, for those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, we have a Diabetes Program that is proven to lower A1C and lead to clinically significant weight loss, which could help facilitate diabetes remission.      

  2. Behavior change program + communities and coaching
    Our behavior change program is unlike any other, offering an immersive and engaging experience that drives sustained behavior change. Members are provided with access to online and real-life communities where they can access support and coaching for their specific weight health journey. The social aspect fosters a sense of connection by enabling members to engage with others sharing similar experiences and provide mutual support. The coaching component helps to ensure members feel completely supported and validated during all aspects of the program while considering a medication, taking a medication, or tapering off GLP-1s.

  3. Access tied to engagement
    We have various prescribing protocols, all informed by science, which enable us to provide the appropriate care for each patient’s medical needs. Across all treatment options, a lifestyle and behavioral program is foundational. For some people, the behavioral program alone will be therapeutic and sufficient with continued engagement necessary to facilitate optimal outcomes. For others, pharmacotherapy and/or other strategies are needed to treat obesity.

    We’re able to implement programs that align with specific employer and PBM needs based on individualized assessments. For example, some clients choose to mandate participation in a behavioral program as a requirement for receiving anti-obesity medications (AOMs). This type of stepped care provides access to an evidence-based behavior change program and support before members progress to costly GLP-1s. 

  4. Whole-person medication management
    A behavioral foundation enables successful and safe medication adjustments at the appropriate stages in a member’s journey. By leveraging clinical interventions to understand how medications may impact a person’s ability to lose weight, clinicians can better manage a person’s medications to achieve optimal results. Utilizing the latest in clinical care practices and years of data tracking, we have developed distinct pathways to help optimize each member's journey, which may include behavioral support alone, behavioral support along with medication prescription, and off-ramping from GLP1 medications.

  5. Evidence-based decision-making
    We continually refresh the pathways offered to include the best possible choices for members. Using data and insights to track member progress and identify trends, we continually update our program to maximize results for individuals based on where they are. This data-driven approach empowers members to take control of their health.

  6. Sustained weight health results
    A WW observational study with greater than 6,000 participants showed an average weight loss for members with WW Clinic of 19.4% per year.1  
    Achieving optimal weight health and sustaining it long-term helps avoid high-cost claims tied to obesity and related conditions — a win for employers and members alike.

Join the movement to do weight health management better. Request a demo from WeightWatchers for Business.

Read more: 

Check out part two in this two-part blog: Optimizing weight health: Reasons to de-escalate or discontinue anti-obesity medications 


1. Ard JD et al. Twelve-month analysis of real-world evidence from a commercial telehealth obesity treatment provider. 2024. Under review.

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