Transforming Diabetes Prevention: Creating Pathways to Access, Outcomes Through Digital Health

With the creation of a diabetes prevention program, participants are able to make lasting behavioral changes, such as eating healthier, increasing physical activity, and improving problem-solving skills.

As diabetes continues to be a huge public health challenge, it is crucial that pharmacy quality measures focus on prevention as this is just the tip of the iceberg, according to a session at the Pharmacy Quality Alliance 2021 Online Annual Meeting.

Nicole Scovis, PharmD, BCPS, BCACP, senior director of Pharmacy Practice Innovation at Tabula Rasa HealthCare, explained how people who are “underwater” without the right diabetes intervention will go on to develop the condition, so their diabetes is still under the surface.

“More than 8 in 10 adults with prediabetes do not know they have it,” Scovis said. “Without intervention, many people with prediabetes develop diabetes within 5 years.”

With the creation of a diabetes prevention program, participants are able to make lasting behavioral changes, such as eating healthier, increasing physical activity, and improving problem-solving skills. The goal is for the participant to lose 5% to 7% of body weight through weekly and monthly sessions with a lifestyle coach, according to Scovis.

In terms of health care costs of diabetes, Sandra Leal, PharmD, MPH, FAPhA, CDCES, executive vice president at Tabula Rasa HealthCare, explained how it is much cheaper to prevent diabetes than to treat the consequences of the disease.

“People diagnosed with diabetes incur on average $16,750 annually in medical expenses,” Leal said. “That’s about 2.3 times the medical expenses of a person without diabetes.”

The program uses a combination delivery, which involves on-demand digital, telehealth, and a participant portal, which Leal says her company is very proud of.

“We are really trying to look at opportunities to reach people regardless of language and geography,” Leal said.

A key takeaway that Leal mentioned is that prevention couples with the alignment of current measures and the development of new measures that can result in meaningful return on investment.

“We often focus on chronic disease management,” Leal said. “If we focus on prevention, we will see a difference in the total cost of care.”

REFERENCE

Leal S, Scovis N. Transforming Diabetes Prevention: Creating Pathways to Access and Outcomes through Digital Health. Presented at: PQA 2021 Online Annual Meeting; May 13, 2021. Accessed May 13, 2021.