How Ro is helping patients achieve their weight loss goals

Written by Tzvi Doron, DO 

Written by Tzvi Doron, DO 

last updated: Oct 04, 2022

6 min read

As of February 2024, Ro no longer offers Plenity on its platform because it is no longer available in the marketplace. To learn more about Ro's weight management offerings, see here

One of the most pervasive goals our patients and millions of others have is weight loss. More than 70% of adults in the U.S. live with overweight or obesity. While nearly 50% of adults may try to lose weight each year, only about 20% of those who try successfully lose weight and keep it off. Losing weight may be the primary goal patients have, but there are additional benefits to a patient’s overall wellbeing too — from cardiovascular to sexual to mental health and more.

Appreciating the complexity of weight management and the gap in available effective solutions, Ro was well positioned to help. That’s why, through a partnership with biotech company Gelesis, Ro became the first telehealth company to offer patients access to Plenity, the FDA-cleared weight management prescription treatment for the broadest scope of people living with overweight and obesity.

Now, just two and a half years later, more than 160,000 patients nationwide have made progress toward their weight loss goals.

Why Now: A Clear Need for Better Weight Loss Care

Predictions are that nearly half of U.S. adults will live with obesity by 2030, including over 50% of adults in 29 states. But, while obesity is a common and treatable disease, patients are not getting the care they need:

  • Access to weight loss care, including prescription weight management treatment, is limited. Provider shortages and care deserts make it more difficult for patients to find care — there were little more than 5,200 providers certified in obesity care in 2021.

  • Further, stigma , bias, and judgment remain an all too common experience — more than 30% of Ro’s weight loss patients surveyed said that when seeking in-person care outside of Ro, they had been treated unfairly, teased, or discriminated against because of their weight.

  • Worse still, the access and experience shortcomings associated with high-quality, effective treatment lead many to spend money on less, if at all, effective options — such as fad diets, supplements, among others.

Clearly, there is a need for weight loss options that are accessible, effective, and offer the ongoing support patients need to achieve their weight goals.

Enter, Plenity, a non-stimulant, non-addictive prescription weight management aid that is made of naturally-derived building blocks. In clinical studies, nearly 6 out of 10 people lost at least 5% of their body weight when Plenity was taken in conjunction with diet and exercise — and the average weight loss was 10%, about 22 pounds. The most common side effects were fullness, bloating, flatulence and/or abdominal pain (more safety information here).

Ro’s partnership with Gelesis, the makers of Plenity, was incredibly unique because it was the first time an FDA-cleared weight management aid or primary care product was made available at launch nationwide via telehealth — providing immediate access to patients regardless of insurance status, zip code or provider availability in their area.

From Goal to Reality: The Ro Experience

Ro’s direct-to-patient model has not only made Plenity available nationwide, but it has also reimagined a patient’s experience throughout their weight loss journey. Here’s what it’s like for a patient.

Ro designs everything around a patient’s goals, so when they visit Ro’s website or download the Ro app it’s easy to find what they need. The first step for a patient starting weight loss care through Ro is completing an Online Visit. This purpose-designed visit adapts to each patient’s responses to give providers information about the patient’s unique goals and health history. Once a patient completes their Online Visit, 90% of weight loss treatment requests are reviewed by a provider within 10 hours.

Next, patients find time to connect with a provider to answer any questions either may have and, if appropriate, discuss their Plenity treatment plan. From there, Ro’s nationwide pharmacy network delivers 99% of treatments in two days or less.

This is only the start of a patient’s weight loss journey with Ro — patients also have access to ongoing check-ins and communication with their providers throughout their treatment. In addition, they can tap into educational resources and behavioral recommendations (e.g., diet, exercise, lifestyle habits) as well as 24/7 support through their MyRo account or on the Ro app. In a departure from in-person care, Ro truly puts patients in control, as we respond to 90% of patients’ messages to our support team in under an hour.

Ro’s Impact: Patients Reaching their Weight Loss Goals

Ro’s direct-to-patient model enables us to help patients nationwide toward their weight loss goals — including patients in all 50 states plus Washington D.C. Analyzing a sample of the patients who have sought weight loss treatment through Ro reveals more about who we’ve been able to help:

  • Patients who have not had success in prior weight loss attempts: Almost all (>98%) had attempted at least one weight loss method and half had tried four or more methods.

  • Patients living with overweight and obesity who know that it is affecting their health: About a third of the patients were living with pre-obesity (a BMI between 25 to 29.9) while the rest lived with obesity (a BMI between 30 to 40). While about 40% reported weight-related comorbidities, over 90% believed that weight negatively affected their health.

  • Women and older patients with weight loss goals: Over about 78% of patients were female while 27% were above 50 years old and about 8% were above 60 years old.

We want to help as many patients as possible achieve their goals — this includes new patients who come to us specifically for our weight loss offerings, but it also includes our existing fertility, skincare, and sexual health patients. These patients value the type of care they receive from us and often want support on their next goal, which for many includes weight loss. So far, we’ve helped thousands of existing Ro patients start their weight loss journey in addition to pursuing another one of their health goals.

Having a healthy weight is a key building block of patients’ overall health — and can help lower their risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and more, not to mention significantly lowering their average healthcare costs. This deep connection to an individual’s broader wellbeing is what makes our weight loss offerings all the more valuable to our patients.

Ro has also supported continued research on the delivery of weight loss care via telehealth. Our platform enables Ro to collect and study data on the patient experience, safety, efficacy, and treatment outcomes. For example, Ro and Gelesis have collaborated on research looking at the demographics of weight loss patients, their experience with in-person and telehealth weight loss care, and the efficacy of Plenity — all in service of the best patient experience possible. Additionally, Ro’s team uses data to build new features that support an even greater patient experience, such as our Side Effect Check-in Program–designed to support safer care and greater treatment adherence for weight loss and all of our patients.

Looking Ahead: Innovating On Behalf of Patients

Plenity is just the beginning. To best help our patients achieve their weight loss goals, Ro is committed to building on and expanding our weight loss programs.

For example, diagnostic testing can be an important part of learning more about a patient’s health, and tailoring treatment plans to best fit their goals. Ro has the ability to uniquely transform this experience for patients with an at-home lab testing experience supported by Kit, our innovative self-administered testing kits. Looking ahead, we are excited to continue building on our weight loss program to further empower even more patients to reach their goals, whether they’re best supported by features like at-home diagnostics, remote monitoring, connected devices, or coaching.

Our partnership with Gelesis is an example of how Ro can innovate on behalf of patients — enabling them to get new, effective treatments nationwide through the most convenient and effective experience possible. In addition to Plenity, Ro is always looking for new, science-backed treatments to offer our patients. From prescription medications to care management tools and more, we will continue to evaluate the best resources to help our patients reach their weight loss goals.

Plenity® is indicated to aid weight management in adults with excess weight or obesity, a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25–40 kg/m², when used in conjunction with diet and exercise.

Important Safety Information

  • Patients who are pregnant or are allergic to cellulose, citric acid, sodium stearyl fumarate, gelatin, or titanium dioxide should not take Plenity.

  • To avoid impact on the absorption of medications: For all medications that should be taken with food, take them after starting a meal. For all medications that should be taken without food (on an empty stomach), continue taking on an empty stomach or as recommended by your physician.

  • The overall incidence of side effects with Plenity was no different than placebo. The most common side effects were diarrhea, distended abdomen, infrequent bowel movements, and flatulence.

  • Contact a doctor right away if problems occur. If you have a severe allergic reaction, severe stomach pain, or severe diarrhea, stop using Plenity until you can speak to your doctor.

Rx Only. For the safe and proper use of Plenity or more information, talk to a healthcare professional, read the Patient Instructions for Use, or call 1–844-PLENITY.