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August 24, 2023

Telehealth Weight Loss Fraud: Vouched's Fight Against the Issue

Obesity is a growing health concern affecting millions of people worldwide. While diet and exercise remain the most effective methods for weight loss, weight loss drugs can provide additional help for some people. This has led to a push from many healthcare providers and patients alike for new drug approval. 
However, with the rise of fraudulent activity in weight loss drug approvals, the safety and effectiveness of these drugs are being compromised. This blog post will explore the significant amount of fraud in the weight loss drug approval process and how healthcare companies can combat this issue by using high-tech solutions, such as identity verification software, to verify the identity of their patients. By leveraging these solutions, healthcare providers can ensure patient safety, maintain the integrity of the drug approval process, and ultimately help people on their weight loss journey.

An Overview of Fraud in Weight Loss Drug Approvals

Weight loss drugs are becoming more popular as a treatment for obesity, with telehealth weight loss appointments becoming more popular as well. However, approving these drugs is often complicated and involves many steps to ensure their safety and efficacy. Fraudulent practices in the weight loss drug approval process involve patients providing false information to healthcare providers and digital health platforms. They may seem like a magic solution, but even approved weight loss drugs are not for everyone. In order to get around rules and regulations, patients may submit altered photographs or provide incorrect BMI readings to qualify for FDA approved weight loss drugs that they may not need. This fraudulent practice is not only unethical but also puts patients at risk.
In 2015, Orexigen Therapeutics settled a lawsuit with the US Department of Justice over allegations that it had engaged in fraud during clinical trials of its weight loss drug, Contrave. The lawsuit alleged that Orexigen had manipulated the data from the clinical trial by concealing that the trial had been compromised by using patients who provided false information about their weight, medical history, and other factors. This case underscores the severe repercussions of fraudulent practices in the drug approval process, including harm to patients and legal action by regulatory agencies. 
Fraud in telehealth weight loss approvals can take many forms, including:
Submitting False Information
Patients may submit false information to healthcare providers or digital health platforms to qualify for weight loss drugs.
Altered Photographs
Prior to a telehealth weight loss appointment, patients may alter their photographs to make it appear as though they meet the criteria for weight loss drugs.
BMI Manipulation
Patients may provide incorrect BMI readings to qualify for weight loss drugs.
Identity Fraud
Medical identity theft is a huge problem. Patients may even go so far as to use fake identification documents or alter their existing documents to appear they meet the criteria for FDA approved weight loss drugs.

Unlocking the Potential of Telehealth

Telehealth companies have an essential role in preventing fraud in weight loss drug approvals. Using digital health solutions for drug approvals can help streamline the process and reduce the potential for fraud. For example, AI algorithms can analyze patient photographs to ensure they match their identification documents, reducing the risk of identity fraud. Additionally, digital platforms can integrate data from various sources to cross-check and verify patient information, reducing the potential for patients to provide false data.
There are several areas where telehealth companies can help to prevent fraud in weight loss drug approvals. These include:
Patient Verification
One of the most effective ways to prevent fraud is to verify the patient's identity. Visual identity verification solutions can use facial recognition technology to ensure the patient's photograph matches their identification documents. This technology can also be used to authenticate that the person requesting weight loss drugs is whom they claim to be. This can prevent fraudsters from impersonating patients and receiving weight loss drugs without proper medical oversight.
Verify Medical History
Telehealth companies can verify a patient's medical history to ensure they have a legitimate need for weight loss drugs. This can prevent fraud by preventing patients from obtaining drugs they do not need.
Compliance and Regulatory Requirements
Telehealth companies should follow regulatory requirements and guidelines for prescribing weight loss drugs. By complying with these requirements, telehealth companies can ensure that the medication prescribed is safe and appropriate, reducing the risk of fraud.
Fraud Detection Software
Telehealth companies can use fraud detection software to monitor prescription patterns and identify any irregularities or suspicious activity. This can help prevent fraud by detecting unusual activity and alerting the company to fraudulent behavior.
Video Consultations
Base drug approval on more than just one photo. Telehealth companies can use video consultations to verify the patient's identity and confirm that they are a good candidate for weight loss drugs. This can help prevent fraud by ensuring that the patient is genuinely seeking medical advice and not trying to obtain drugs for illicit purposes.
As the landscape of telehealth for weight loss continues to evolve, AI-solutions are emerging as a transformative force, revolutionizing the way medication approvals are conducted. By harnessing the power of digital health solutions, telehealth companies have the unique opportunity to combat fraud, streamline processes, and enhance patient safety.

The 4 Benefits of IDV for Telehealth Weight Loss Appointments

There are several benefits to using an identity verification (IDV) solution for approving weight loss drugs in a telehealth setting: 
#1 Streamlined Approval Process
Verifying patient identities manually can be time-consuming and prone to errors. An IDV solution can automate the verification process, making it faster and more efficient. This can help telehealth companies streamline their operations and improve patient experiences.
#2 Improved Compliance
Healthcare regulations require patients seeking weight loss drug approvals to be appropriately identified and authenticated. An IDV solution can help telehealth companies ensure that they are complying with these strict regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Compliance with these regulations are essential and necessary to avoid potential penalties or legal issues.
#3 Enhanced Security
IDV solutions can help ensure that only legitimate patients are approved for weight loss drugs by verifying patient identities.
#4 Better Patient Care
By using an IDV solution, telehealth companies can be confident that they are providing weight loss drug approvals only to legitimate patients who have been appropriately identified and authenticated.
The traditional healthcare model has always relied on in-person consultations. The rise of digitized healthcare in the last few years has provided more flexibility and convenience for patients. Despite this surge in adoption, there are still many challenges that telehealth providers face when dealing with how to verify patient identity in the patient onboarding process

Trust VouchedRx and VouchedRx Plus for Your Healthcare IDV Needs

The rise in weight loss drug approvals has led to increased fraudulent practices in the industry. As a result, patients are submitting false information, altered photographs, and incorrect BMI readings to qualify for drugs they may not need. Telehealth and telemedicine companies are essential in preventing fraud and improving patient safety. The use of verification and machine learning data correlation technologies can help to avoid fraud and to ensure that patients receive weight loss drugs that are appropriate for their needs. By addressing this issue, telehealth companies can help to improve patient safety and streamline the drug approval process.

We encourage you to learn more about VouchedRx and VouchedRx Plus, our IDV solutions made specifically for healthcare and telemedicine. With award-winning digital identity verification from Vouched, you can provide faster care and greater access to medicine with less fraud and prescription abuse. As well, our end-to-end security and HIPAA compliance makes navigating telemedicine effortless. Learn more by reaching out to our sales team for a free demo!
Tag(s): Blog , Articles , Vouched

Sharon Shi

Sharon Shi, the Product Marketing Lead at Vouched, leverages her rich experiences at Twitter and ad agencies to thrive in the dynamic field of identity verification marketing. Playing a key role, she collaboratively shapes Vouched's market positioning and growth.

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