Carbon Health launches new program with continuous glucose monitors to assess diabetes risk

Carbon Health
An estimated 35% of the population has prediabetes, but upward of 85% of those people don’t know they’re at risk, according to Carbon Health. (Carbon Health)

Primary care provider Carbon Health is launching a metabolic assessment program that uses continuous glucose monitors to help identify patients at high risk for diabetes.

The company, which provides virtual care services in addition to brick-and-mortar clinics, will integrate data from CGMs worn for two weeks by their patients into its primary care model to create care plans tailored to the individual.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 34 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, about 1 in 10 individuals, and an estimated 35% of the population has prediabetes.

But upward of 85% of people at risk for diabetes don’t know they’re at risk, according to Carbon Health.

The program is for that 85%, Chief Strategy Office Myoung Cha told Fierce Healthcare.

“That’s the opportunity, for us to help people get ahead of this and do what they can to prevent this long-term progression towards a really costly disease,” said Cha, who is also president of omnichannel care at Carbon Health.

RELATED: Primary care doctors need more education about prediabetes risk factors

Carbon Health will offer the program to anyone who wants to enroll with no subscription or concierge fees, Cha said.

“We’re open to everyone,” he said. “That’s part of what’s motivating this program—to democratize tools and technologies that can really make a difference for people’s health.”

The program is currently available in California to patients aged 18 to 65, and the company plans to expand eligibility nationwide in the future, Cha said.

The program’s launch is bolstered by the company’s acquisition of virtual diabetes management startup Steady Health in June.

The startup offers video visits and text consults with diabetes specialists as well as CGM devices to provide additional insights.

Cha said its program for primary care builds on Steady Health’s capabilities.

“That team had a lot of expertise not just in treating diabetes, but in integrating CGMs into their virtual endocrinology services,” he said.

If patients assessed through the primary care program require a higher level of care, their Carbon Health providers can also refer them internally to Steady Health’s endocrinologist-based program, Cha said.

RELATED: Carbon Health pushes into home disease management with Steady Health acquisition

CGMs aren’t new technology—the first device was created more than 20 years ago, Cha noted—but they haven’t always been available to everyone who needs them.

“The technology has been around for a long time. But I think what’s happened over the course of two decades is not just continuous improvement in the performance, but these things have gotten smaller and cheaper, and therefore more accessible,” he said.

The launch is one of many steps taken by Carbon Health this year to capitalize on its accelerated growth during the pandemic.

The primary care provider landed $350 million in fresh capital in July, bringing the company to a valuation of $3.3 billion.

Though the company was only founded in 2015, the growth sets it on a path "to become the largest primary care provider in the U.S." by 2025, Carbon Health said in a statement about the funding round.

RELATED: Carbon Health banks another $350M to become 'largest primary care provider in the U.S.'

In the same statement, the company said it would use the funds to bolster Carbon Health’s tech capabilities, including investments in hardware-focused areas like longitudinal care, as well as to support the company’s nationwide expansion.

In line with that strategy, the company acquired Alertive Healthcare in October, a remote patient monitoring company with tools to address chronic diseases affecting the heart, brain, lungs and kidneys.

Cha hinted that the company’s acquisitions reflect a long-term strategy leaning into hardware like RPM devices.

“The hardware is a component of providing much better-connected care for a whole array of conditions,” Cha said. “Without saying a whole lot of specifics, we think there’s huge opportunity to create a bunch of hardware-enabled care pathways to augment our brick and mortar clinics to create a connected care experience wherever people might be.”