Protecting Bariatric Revenue

4 strategies to protect your bariatric procedure revenue from the rise of weight loss drugs.


The past few months have seen significant changes in the weight loss industry. So how does this impact healthcare providers serving patients interested in losing weight?

Interest in drugs like Ozempic, Wegovy, Semaglutide, Tirzepatide and Saxenda for weight loss has surged. What’s more, these drugs have received heavy media coverage over the past year—so much so that the supply has been strained for diabetes patients who rely on them.

Google search volume has risen over the past six months for all of these drugs. Particularly for Ozempic, starting when the topic hit the news cycle earlier this year.

Weight Loss Drug Surge

But it doesn’t stop there. Telehealth solutions have also become big business in this space, including well-known consumer brands. Weight Watchers recently purchased Ozempic provider Sequence, while Noom announced their own telehealth program, Noom Clinical.

A bariatric service line often serves as a dependable financial stream, with treatments averaging around $10k per procedure. But the rise of weight loss drugs could change that.

Weight loss drugs can be seen in two ways:

(1) An alternative to surgery — weight loss can be up to 22% with these drugs, compared with weight loss surgeries which can reduce body weight between 15-29%.

(2) A compliment to weight loss surgery - aka, “combination therapy”. Most modern weight loss programs today recognize there isn’t a one-size fits all approach — weight loss drugs aren’t always in direct competition to bariatric surgery. They might be an option for one patient, or part of a combination approach for another. People are looking for providers who’ll evaluate all therapies, then recommend the best solution for their situation.

An overview of the weight loss audience:

  • Patients engaging providers for weight loss help range from ages 18 to 70+, but typically skew towards females 40 to 54 — a patient base that influences all of their family’s healthcare decisions.
  • Patients dealing with multiple conditions — diabetes, heart disease, obesity and more.

Marketing and communications: 4 strategies to address the changing weight loss conversation:

1. Speak to this topic to drive brand consideration
  • Share messaging with patients and consumers that demonstrate your cross-specialty care teams are ready to answer their questions.
  • Expand the impact of this messaging by placing it on your website and social channels, and boosting this content to expand its reach.
  • Customize a pitch to local news providers to increase earned reach.
  • Engage major payors and employers in your area, becoming their subject matter expert in navigating the risks and benefits to their employees.

2. Check the impact on your bariatric referral stream by examining:
  • Share of search for obesity drugs and weight loss in your area.
  • Shifts in click-through-rate month over month for bariatric service line paid search ads that use the term “surgery”.
  • Lead count trends for surgery-focused seminar and education guide registrations month over month.

3. Optimize patient communications and marketing campaigns
  • What are the top-converting keywords in your paid search buy? Is your content speaking to those?
  • Does your content answer the most common questions bariatric candidates have been asking in the past 3-6 months? I.e. insurance, weight loss shots, and more?
  • Does your content push one solution, or does it address what prospective patients are looking for: an appropriate, sustainable weight loss solution that’s cost-effective for them in the long-term?

4. Assemble your CSO, CMO, CFO, and COO to assess future opportunities with this patient base
  • Evaluate your system’s financial upside in the weight loss category for the year. Consider these factors: existing patient base propensity modeling, market shifts, channels available to reach audiences, your brand perception with this audience, the competitive landscape, shifts in the reimbursement landscape, existing referral streams, and referral leakage.

Questions? Looking for a deeper dive into this topic? Get in touch.

  • Healthcare
  • Bariatrics
  • Bariatric Procedural Revenue
  • Bariatrics Service Line
  • Bariatric Referral Stream