Health Tech, Hospitals

Intermountain expands diabetes prevention partnership with Omada

The nonprofit health system started offering Omada’s digital diabetes prevention program as a covered benefit to some at-risk patients.

Intermountain Healthcare began offering Omada’s digital diabetes prevention program as a covered benefit for some of its patients. The nonprofit health system launched the program in August for patients in its at-risk population and plans to continue it in 2021. Intermountain, which is an integrated delivery network, covers more than 900,000 people through its insurance division.

Digital health startup Omada’s diabetes prevention program give users access to weekly educational information, health coaches and peer groups, and lets them sync data from wearable devices and connected scales.

Traditionally, diabetes prevention programs are offered as in-person classes. Even though Intermountain still offers in-person programs, the pandemic has added new challenges.

“Normally, our cohorts would be 20-plus people. Now, we’re having to reduce those cohorts to 10 or less,” said Dr. Liz Joy, medical director for Intermountain’s Office of Health Promotion and Wellness, said in a phone interview. “If we can deliver this important chronic disease prevention program to people’s homes during a pandemic, I think it’s phenomenal.”

Using a virtual program can also significantly expand an organization’s reach, she said, bringing in people who would have difficulty carving out time to drive to a program. She was also concerned about the effect the pandemic might have on people’s long-term health.

During the early months of the pandemic, Intermountain began to see the number of patients who converted from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes tick up from 13% to 15%. Now, that number is back down to 13% again, Joy said.

“It is fundamentally changing how people eat and how active people are,” she said. “We’re really trying to say, ‘what do we have to do in order to keep people engaged in this effort?’”

Eligible patients are contacted via email, mail or phone. The program builds on years of work between the two companies after Intermountain began allowing its physicians to refer patients to Omada in 2016. That first pilot had 200 patients, Joy said.

Alluding to the plethora of digital programs available, Joy said that part of the reason Intermountain chose Omada was because of its published research.

“What struck us was that they were collecting data, rigorously evaluating it, and their numbers were sufficient. They weren’t talking about a 25-person pilot. It was hundreds of people,” she said.

Last year, Intermountain began covering the program for its employees and their dependents, and made an investment in Omada through Intermountain Ventures. More than 2,000 caregivers and dependents have since enrolled in the program.

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