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For digital diabetes care, is more data always better?

0 2 years ago

Digital behavioural health programs are making a bold pitch to payers, employers, and patients themselves: Shell out upfront for our virtual coaching and remote monitoring, and we’ll save you money by avoiding costly complications from diabetes and other diseases in the long run.

For diabetes, which nearly tops the list of chronic health conditions by cost, many virtual programs are promoting continuous glucose monitoring as part of that promise. “We just started to see that with CGMs, it’s a foregone conclusion that they’re going to be the dominant solution,” said Sean Duffy, co-founder and CEO of digital care company Omada Health. The devices, which stream users’ blood glucose data throughout the day, are most commonly used by people who need multiple daily doses of insulin to manage their diabetes, but “this isn’t just for people who inject insulin,” said Duffy. “We decided that it was going to be table stakes and Omada needed to power CGM and coaching in a really deep way.”

Virtual care companies don’t have the data to back that strategy up just yet, though. Not every diabetes patient will benefit from wearing a device that tracks their blood glucose day in and day out. The growing adoption of CGMs, though, will provide a test. In the past few years, many programs have inked partnerships with manufacturers to get sensors onto the arms and bellies of more type 2 diabetes patients, including those who don’t use insulin. In 2019, Omada established a partnership with Abbott that offered FreeStyle Libre prescriptions to some members diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, along with a wireless scale. Livongo partnered with Dexcom in 2020 to incorporate its CGM data into its program; the same year, UnitedHealth Group launched Level2, providing users with coaching along with a free Fitbit and Dexcom G6.

The data rolling in could help digital care companies determine the value of CGMs — both for patients and for their bottom lines.


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