Carbon Health launches diabetes management program, integrates CGM data with EMR

Less than a year after its acquisition of virtual diabetes management startup Steady Health, primary care provider Carbon Health is launching its own integrated diabetes care program.

Combining at-home continuous glucose monitor (CGM) devices with continuous care team support in-person and virtually, the program represents the full incorporation of Steady Health's platform, which leveraged CGMs to personalize patient care.

The program is “extremely vertically integrated,” said Myoung Cha, chief strategy officer and president of omnichannel care at Carbon. In a massive diabetes management market with more players taking digital approaches, he sees that integration as Carbon’s unfair advantage.

“There are certainly different patient needs and buyer needs. We think our differentiation is for folks who want seamless, frictionless care from one provider for all your frontline needs,” Cha told Fierce Healthcare.

Through the Carbon app, patient CGM data are linked to the information that patients log themselves, like data on their meals and exercise. That helps their providers assess how lifestyle choices are impacting their blood sugar throughout the day—if a patient’s CGM graph shows a spike around lunchtime, the provider can make suggestions about how to alter that day’s lunch to prevent the same response in the future.

It can be frustrating for diabetes patients to try to make those associations on their own, said Henrik Berggren, general manager of Carbon’s diabetes program and the founder and former CEO of Steady Health. Berggren, who’s lived with diabetes for more than two decades, called it “an extreme burden, almost every hour of the day.”

“Connections between food, exercise and medication are very hard to draw—and it’s especially hard to draw when you have very small amounts of data,” he said.

To make sense of the data being collected, patients get access to a dedicated care team including an endocrinologist, a dietitian and a nurse for diabetes education. Their primary care providers can also use the information logged in the app and uploaded into the EMR to inform checkups.

The app includes “time in range” insights, too, which represent the percentage of time diabetes patients kept their blood sugar within the recommended range. In pilot programs at Carbon clinics, 80% of diabetes patients achieved the time in range goal of 70% within six weeks of using the platform.

The company worked with CGM manufacturers Abbott and Dexcom to integrate data collected from the devices into Carbon’s EMR, which was a heavy lift, Cha said.

“It was only possible because we have control over our own EMR that we were able to accomplish this level of workflow integration, which is atypical as opposed to point solutions trying to sell to provider practices,” he said.

Carbon also launched a metabolic assessment program in December to help patients measure their risk for diabetes. If the patient receives a diabetes diagnosis with the assessment, Carbon’s diabetes program can support them immediately. Patients who already have a diabetes diagnosis can skip the metabolic assessment and enroll in the diabetes management program directly, whether or not they’re an existing Carbon patient.

The program is available now to patients in California, with plans for nationwide expansion in the future, Cha said. The company is looking to use the same care model to expand into more conditions, too, including mental health, heart health and asthma.

Broadly, the primary care unicorn plans to double its clinic footprint in 2022, according to Cha. The company operates 100 clinics in 16 states and provides virtual care in 35 states plus D.C.

At the end of March, direct-to-consumer startup Hims & Hers announced a partnership with Carbon to give the digital health company’s California members access to in-person medical appointments at Carbon clinics.

Founded in 2015, tech-enabled healthcare provider Carbon has raised over $520 million to date, last banking $350 million in a July 2021 series D round that valued the company at $3.3 billion.