Intermountain execs leverage digital care to improve diabetes prevention

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One year ago, Intermountain Healthcare made digital health company Omada Health's diabetes prevention program available as a covered benefit to the Salt Lake City-based system's medical group patients. Here, two executives familiar with the initiative answer questions about its progress and results.

Responses were provided by Liz Joy, MD, Intermountain's senior medical director for wellness and nutrition, and Elisa Soulier, the health and well-being manager at Castell Health, Intermountain's value-based care subsidiary.

Editor's note: Responses were lightly edited for clarity and style.

Question: How did Intermountain discover that diabetes prevention would improve if physicians offered digital program referrals?

Dr. Liz Joy and Elisa Soulier: Intermountain’s Diabetes Prevention Program intervention pathways have demonstrated effectiveness but would've required resources to scale for a growing population of patients with prediabetes. We also knew there was a significant opportunity to positively impact health behaviors and outcomes outside of our clinic and hospital walls. The pandemic has both validated our hypothesis and acted as a catalyst to accelerate innovative care delivery models. The decision to make Omada DPP available was aligned with our organization’s overall digital strategy and helps provide needed reach to help more people manage a preventable disease. Integrating Omada's digital tools supports providers in managing their patients' conditions and offering a differentiated personalized experience.

Q: How was Omada chosen as a partner?

LJ and ES: At the time we selected Omada as our digital DPP partner, they were leading the industry in analytics, and were publishing results in the peer-reviewed literature — which was identified as a minimum requirement by our expert diabetes prevention leadership team. Since then, Omada has become a clear industry leader in scaling personalized behavior change and clinical guidelines with over 1,500 employer/payer partners, more than 450,000 participants in their prevention program, 18 and counting peer-reviewed published articles demonstrating significant clinical/cost outcomes, and accreditations through the CDC and National Committee for Quality Assurance. Consumers expect high-quality, low-cost care and the ability to access it when, where and how they need it. Aside from these table stakes is a growing demand around offerings that address their total wellness and make taking care of their health easier. Omada enables us to scale a whole-person human digital care experience.

Q: What engagement results has the partnership produced?

LJ and ES: Intermountain DPP's ability to offer Omada as a digitally enabled intervention pathway for more than 3500 Intermountain caregivers and patients has resulted in increased access, participation and meaningful weight loss. Our caregivers continue to show high engagement and satisfaction as they participate. We've been excited to see early reports among our patient population trending higher across engagement metrics when compared to that population and Omada's book of business.

Q: How has Intermountain's collaboration with Omada expanded over time?

LJ and ES: Intermountain Healthcare and Omada have achieved several significant milestones through our collaboration. In 2016, the two companies launched an innovative partnership in conjunction with the American Medical Association to deliver digital diabetes prevention services via physician referral. In 2019, the Omada Program became a covered benefit for Intermountain employees and their adult dependents, followed by an investment from Intermountain Ventures, the strategic investment arm of Intermountain Healthcare. Beginning in August of 2020, we enrolled 1,000 adult patients with prediabetes who also receive care from Intermountain Medical Group primary care providers. We continue to evaluate the outcomes and explore new models of shared accountability with Omada, related to expanded offerings for our caregivers, patients, members and community.

 Q: How has the partnership improved diabetes care at Intermountain?

LJ and ES: Intermountain's philosophy for the prevention of type 2 diabetes has always been based on choice. We created three defined pathways:

  1. A two-hour Prediabetes 101 Class, free of charge for all of our patients, taught by a registered dietitian, available digitally, virtually and in person.

  2. Medical Nutrition Therapy, which provides one-on-one counseling with a registered dietitian. Intermountain's Weigh to Health Nutrition program is a fully recognized DPP by the CDC. Until recently, Weigh to Health was only available in person. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the need for a digital DPP that would "safely" provide diabetes prevention services to our caregivers and patients.

  3. The addition of Omada to our DPP portfolio offers choice to people who prefer a digital experience rather than an in-person experience. For working adults, for adults with compromised immune systems, for adults with transportation limitations, a full DPP that can be done from home is delivering care when, where and how it is desired. Through our partnership with Omada, we have significantly increased access to the DPP, and we have seen our rate of conversion from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes continue to decline. 

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