Technology plays part in diabetes care, prevention

Prevention and treatment of diabtetes is growing in importance in the healthcare community, and according to panelists at an event late last week, technology may have a big role to play in helping in the effort. 

The panelists spoke Friday at Patient-Centered Diabetes Care in Teaneck, New Jersey, presented by The American Journal of Managed Care, according to an article in the journal. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' recently announced that it will offer the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP) through Medicare, action that could lead to better coverage of digital diabetes care. NDPP is a 16-session lifestyle intervention program. Insurers have been closely watching diabetes numbers rise; United Health is among those trying to turn the tide by participating in NDPP.

Digital health company Omada Health has taken its program from a face-to-face encounter to an "immersive experience," that differs from telemedicine because it is designed to be flexible and keep the patient engaged between visits, Mike Payne, head of medical affairs at Omada, said during the panel event. 

Meanwhile, as part of its program, the University of Mississippi Center for Telehealth has given very poor patients in the Delta region iPads and tools, including a glucometer to monitor their status and to watch diabetes education units on their own schedule, said Tearsanee Davis, a lead nurse practitioner at the facility. If patients fail to check in for their diabetes lesson, or if their blood sugar is off that day, a staff member can contact them to find out what's wrong.

A real disconnect is lack of telehealth reimbursement for Medicaid patients, where it arguably could do the most good, added Anne Schmidt, M.D., associate medical director of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama.

"The more data we have, the more evidence of the impact on outcomes, the more we can shape policy to support that. As we go to a value-based payment model, integrating technology is going to be a key part of that," she said, urging telehealth providers to publish their results.

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- here's the article