A Look at Diabetes in America: How Technology Can Help Prevent and Manage Diabetes

The month of November marked National Diabetes Awareness Month. As we look towards the future of diabetes management, it is critical to understand how widespread this chronic disease is, as well as how collaboration and technology can be harnessed to address this public health crisis.

There are 30.3 million individuals in the United States with diabetes, of which almost one in four are living with undiagnosed diabetes. According to the 2017 National Diabetes Statistics Report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost one in ten Americans are impacted by this disease. The unfortunate reality is that diabetes touches every single person or their loved ones, reducing the quality of life for our children, parents, friends, and neighbors.

Diabetes is one of the most common and costly health problems in America. Unfortunately, at least one out of three individuals will develop diabetes in their lifetime. Type 2 diabetes, once known as adult-onset diabetes, accounts for 90 to 95% of all diabetes cases. Although more common in adults, type 2 diabetes is increasingly seen in children as the prevalence of childhood obesity increases. Common comorbidities of diabetes include obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and cardiovascular disease – all of which are risk factors for strokes and heart attacks. According to the American Diabetes Association, average medical expenditures among people with diagnosed diabetes were more than twice as high as for people without diabetes. The financial burden of diabetes on our nation’s healthcare system was $245 billion in 2012, which underscores diabetes’ devastating effects across all dimensions: mortality and morbidity, quality of life, and national economy.

Although diabetes currently impacts many lives, the disease is also one of the most preventable health problems in America. The CDC reports that individuals with prediabetes who participate in a structured lifestyle change program can cut the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 58%. CipherHealth recently attended Crain’s Healthcare Summit: New York’s Diabetes Crisis, where speakers discussed the healthcare system’s evolving role to better prevent type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. These experts highlighted the need to meet patients where they are by offering better digital solutions for information sharing and enhanced patient education. Speakers urged providers to shift from reactive care – such as teaching patients how to live with the chronic disease – to proactive models of preventive care, in which patients are empowered to make healthy lifestyle choices through better understanding of the underlying causes of diabetes.

CipherHealth’s automated outreach solution provides meaningful touchpoints focused on engaging prediabetic and diabetic patient populations with preventive health reminders and education. Diabetes education forms the cornerstone of diabetes management, as patients with diabetes need to perform complex care activities and make many daily self-management decisions.

Using CipherHealth’s proactive outreach technology, healthcare systems can use multiple outreach modalities such as calls, texts, and emails to assess patients’ self-management of the complex chronic condition, automatically alerting appropriate teams to engage in issue resolution by following up with care instructions or diabetes education tailored to individual patient needs. This is critical for prediabetic and diabetic patient populations, as patients need to develop a long-term partnership with clinicians to develop, enhance, and sustain self-care and lifestyle behaviors. A robust patient engagement strategy creates an ongoing dialogue with the patient and interdisciplinary care teams, proactively identifying risk factors that may have otherwise escalated into costly hospitalizations. With automated outreach technology that ensures all patients are contacted, the diabetes care team can reallocate their time and expertise to high-value bedside activities – while proactively identifying issues before they progress to adverse events.

To learn more how your organization can prevent diabetes among at-risk populations and avoid debilitating and expensive complications from patients already diagnosed with the chronic disease, see CipherHealth’s patient outreach solution in action.

Elizabeth Lagone, MPH, is the Vice President of Government Programs at CipherHealth. Prior to her current role at CipherHealth, Lagone served as the Primary Care Strategy and Improvement Director for DSRIP Initiatives at One City Health, a subsidiary of NYC Health + Hospitals focused on population health, care management, and implementation of the state’s DSRIP program.