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article imageNew healthcare technology to reduce diabetes costs: Interview Special

By Tim Sandle     Jan 18, 2018 in Health
Many employers and health plans are looking to integrate coverage for innovative healthcare technology solutions. One platform is provided by WellDoc, which has partnered with a leading analytics company to address diabetes management and costs.
WellDoc, a digital health company, has engaged Truven Health Analytics, which is part of the IBM Watson Health business, to conduct an analysis using the MarketScan Research Databases in relation to patient's living with type 2 diabetes.
WellDoc has announced that the analysis performed by Truven Health Analytics demonstrates that the clinically proven hemoglobin A1C reductions for users of BlueStar, which is WellDoc’s digital therapeutic for individuals with type 2 diabetes, can translate into significant healthcare cost savings. Here BlueStar can save on average a range of $254 to $271 per user per month. This is of importance given that type 2 diabetes costs the U.S. privatized healthcare system annually an average of $13,000 to $20,000.
To understand more about this digital health development, Digital Journal caught up with Dr. Anand K. Iyer, WellDoc's Chief Strategy Officer, following his return from Las Vegas after delivering the keynote speech on "The Genomics and Personalized Healthcare Revolution" at the Digital Health Summit, which was part of the Consumer Electronics Show.
Digital Journal: What services does WellDoc offer?
Dr. Anand K. Iyer: WellDoc offers digital therapeutic, software solutions aimed at helping patients and providers better manage chronic diseases, with a current emphasis on Type 2 diabetes. Our BlueStar platform is a class II, FDA-cleared medical device that has demonstrated significant reductions in patient HbA1c that have been validated in many randomized control studies which have been published in more than 30 peer-reviewed medical journals and poster presentations.
The platform supports two markets and two product classes. In the first market, WellDoc offers BlueStar to enterprises, including health plans, large hospital systems and Accountable Care Organizations, and self-insured employers.
DJ: How does this work in practice?
Dr. Iyer: The offer itself is three fold. First, a mobile virtual coach that provides tailored, personalized and customized feedback – both in real-time as well as longitudinally – to patients to help manage multiple dimensions of their diabetes including their glucose, medications, activity, diet, symptoms and psycho-social parameters.
Second, a SmartVisit report that provides clinical decision support to providers by highlighting those areas in need of attention and therapy adjustment.
Third, an enterprise portal that allows for the management of populations of patients, including data analytics and population insights.
In the second market, WellDoc offers a direct-to-consumer, lighter version of BlueStar to help consumers manage their diabetes health and wellness using the same algorithm platform as the enterprise BlueStar product. In support of both of these product offerings, WellDoc also provides implementation support and training to enterprises as well as data analytics services, as required.
DJ: What was the reason behind WellDoc recently engaging Truven Health Analytics?
Dr. Iyer: WellDoc has demonstrated significant clinical outcomes in numerous clinical and real-world clinical trials studies and has published more than 30+ studies and articles. We engaged Truven Health Analytics®, part of the IBM Watson Health™ business, to help us translate the clinical value of the HbA1c reductions into economic costs savings using Truven’s Market Scan database.
DJ: You’re conducting analysis using the MarketScan Research Databases, what is special about these databases?
Dr. Iyer:The MarketScan database is comprised of over 200M individual, adjudicated patient claims from over 1,100 insurance carriers in the U.S. It is the most comprehensive database of its kind that contains real cost and utilization data, organized by codes and other key attributes to facilitate precise economic analysis.
DJ: What do you hope to do with the research?
Dr. Iyer:We hope to use this research for two purposes. First, we will jointly publish the methodology, which scales to other chronic conditions and digital therapeutics who have outcomes tied to a key outcome measure. The method can be used by the industry at-large to advance the adoption of proven digital therapeutic solutions. Second, we will use the research to help construct value-based pathways for implementing BlueStar with health plans.
DJ: How can health costs for those with type 2 diabetes be lowered?
Dr. Iyer:As demonstrated in the analysis, the burden is on the digital therapeutic to engage the patient in multiple dimensions to “keep them in the safe range” as deemed appropriate by their care team. The analysis has demonstrated that BlueStar has the ability to bend the A1c curve, which then correlates to bending the cost curve in three areas of cost (acute, supplies and co-morbid complications). Reducing both A1c and BG variances from target are both key to reducing total health costs in the management of diabetes.
DJ: What other projects are you working on?
Dr. Iyer:We are performing additional analyses using the data and methods uncovered. In addition, we are continuing to expand the BlueStar feature set and domain of application to other chronic conditions.
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