Medical supplies company CCS moves into home-based diabetes care management

A company with a long history of providing medical supplies for chronic conditions is expanding its business into monitoring and coaching services for diabetes patients.

CCS, which now includes CCS Medical and CCS Health, aims to provide a more integrated experience for chronic care management, Tony Vahedian, CEO of CCS, said in an interview.

"When you look at the patient journey, specifically patients living with diabetes, it's a really fragmented journey," he noted. Patients diagnosed with diabetes often are sent home from the doctor's office with a prescription for medication and given instructions to change their diets. Doctors may also recommend that these patients use a digital health tool or devices to monitor their conditions at home.

"The patient is really trying to weave together this somewhat complex chronic condition management scenario for themselves," Vahedian said. "They have to figure out how to reorder products and what if the device breaks?

"We believe we're in the appropriate position to really take that fragmented experience and make it an integrated, seamless experience because not only can we deliver the products at the time, but we also can coach them and provide that clinical care," the CEO noted. CCS can combine its home-delivered medical supplies business with accredited clinicians supported by proprietary data and technology to simplify the patient experience, he added. 

The company supports more than 200,000 patients living with chronic conditions in the U.S. and delivers more than 1.2 million shipments of medical supplies to patients in their own homes.

CCS saw an opportunity to evolve its business model to provide better care to patients with diabetes, Vahedian said. "These changes will enable our team to surround patients with the tools, resources and support they need to manage their own care in a simpler way," he said.

He added, "We know that the majority of people with newly diagnosed diabetes do not receive adequate care management education and training in the first year. We are there the moment they get their products to do the coaching, the training and education. We have both sides of skills with CCS; we have the medical products and the ability to deliver coaching and the digital experience."

It's a sizeable market that CCS is targeting, as 37.3 million people have diabetes, or about 11% of the U.S. population, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About 8.5 million people, or about 23% of adults, are undiagnosed and 38% of the U.S. adult population, or 96 million people, have prediabetes, according to CDC data.

At the same time, home healthcare services are growing as companies use virtual care and digital health tools to expand medical care to patients' homes.

It's also a crowded field with a growing list of health tech companies including Livongo—now part of Teladoc—Omada Health, Virta Health and Verily's Onduo, all racing to shake up diabetes care. Even Walmart Health rolled out a virtual care diabetes program for employers and payers this year.

CCS has a unique competitive advantage to integrate the distribution of medical supplies with coaching, monitoring and education, Vahedian said. "We know everything about the patient, we know what their needs are, and we have relationships with the doctors and with their payers. CCS has the experience, data and patient and provider relationships in place to create a new era of patient-driven, proactive chronic care management," he added.

Through its Health and Medical units, CCS works with more than 400 employers and more than 1,800 managed care plans nationally to support their population of patients with diabetes.

CCS now has two main divisions. CCS Health couples human engagement with technology to assist patients with education and coaching on disease management and product adoption. CCS Medical offers technology products and trusted brand names in continuous glucose monitoring and insulin pump therapy, along with other medical products and devices, according to the company.

The company also has made significant investments in its technology and analytics capabilities, Vahedian said. CCS recently launched a digital patient engagement platform and a care management solution.

"We've made some significant investments on getting our data organized, and now we're focusing on leveraging that data and putting tools on top of it where we can be predictive about the patient's journey," he said.

CCS is rolling out these new services to first focus on diabetes but plans to expand to other chronic conditions.

"I do think we're in this unique position where we're breaking the mold on home distribution and breaking the mold on the digital health side. The best model is to meet the patient where they are and make it easy for them," Vahedian said.

The company says its approach results in improved patient outcomes and reduced costs. CCS tracked an average drop of 1.15 points in patient A1C values for a large national health plan as part of CCS’s LivingLinked service, which is a clinical education program.

And CCS’s diabetes clinical care management program, called LivingConnected, with a large employer group yielded a cost reduction of 45% for those enrolled versus not enrolled, the company said.

At United Regional Health Care Group, employees and their spouses with diabetes using CCS' LivingConnected program saw increased adherence to the diabetes standards of care, according to Heather Hormel, senior director of human resources at the insurer. This also generated substantial savings for program participants, she noted.

Patients living with diabetes often face challenges with adequate care management. "It's no surprise that the healthcare industry and employers continue to grapple with less than optimal adherence and outcomes with this population of patients," said Francine Kaufman, M.D., an endocrinologist and a member of CCS' Strategic Advisory Board.

With the right supplies, personalized education, ongoing coaching and home-based monitoring, people living with diabetes can achieve improved health outcomes, Kaufman noted.

CCS formed a new Strategic Advisory Board to help integrate trusted clinical and technological leadership guidance as it grows its business lines. Along with Kaufman, who is a Distinguished Professor Emerita of Pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, other members of the board include Christos Cotsakos, Ph.D., founder, chairman, and CEO of Pennington Ventures and Jean-Claude Saghbini, chief technology officer at Lumeris.