— Rachel Phillips Terry —

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 million people in the U.S. have diabetes and another 86 million have prediabetes. Perhaps even more alarming, more than a fourth of these people don’t even know they have these conditions. How can health plans help their members confront this potentially devastating chronic disease and make the lifestyle changes that will lead them to better health?

Build Awareness

Learning of the presence of diabetes or prediabetes is the first step to empowering patients to make lifestyle changes. Researchers have found that adults who were aware of these conditions were 30% more likely to exercise and almost 80% were more likely to try losing weight.[1]

Clearly, a simple fasting blood glucose test or HbA1c test can reveal whether a person has diabetes, and also alert prediabetics to their susceptibility to the disease. But how can health plans roll out screening programs on a large scale, when thousands or even millions of lives are under their charge? Conducting population health screening involves several steps. The health plan has to identify noncompliant members, reach out to their physicians, generate lab requisitions, coordinate lab testing, create electronic health records, and integrate the data into its information systems to verify gap closures and fulfill HEDIS mandates.

As you will see in this new white paper from BioIQ, a comprehensive healthcare quality platform can automate this entire cycle.

Essential Ingredients

There are several essential components of a successful diabetes screening initiative:

  • An organized system of engagement and education for all participants in the program, including health plan staff, health system partners, and members; ideally, member engagement should be facilitated through a comprehensive technology platform
  • Integrated screening and laboratory interfaces
  • Proven test kit technology
  • Progress tracking and continuous member communications supported by an incentive program to increase compliance
  • Consistent real-time reporting that supports the engagement system, ideally through an online administrative dashboard
  • Ongoing measurement of outcomes and clinical values, communicated to all stakeholders

Automated programs quickly pay for themselves in lower treatment costs. According to Express Scripts, diabetes treatment medications make up 10.79% of the total drug spend of marketplace plans. The population of diabetes patients is also 43% non-adherent to their treatment regimens.[2] It has become critical for companies offering plans through the marketplace to look at innovative ways of identifying these high-risk patients and engaging them with health improvement and chronic-condition management programs.

When effectively implemented, population health screening initiatives can help health plans identify members with elevated glucose or HbA1c levels as well as elevated cholesterol, an important risk factor for heart disease. As a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine concluded, people with prediabetes who know of their conditions are much more likely to engage in lifestyle changes and other programs to forestall the onset or progression of diabetes.[3] Help these members take charge of their health—for everyone’s benefit.

Take a look at our new white paper to learn more.

— Rachel

Rachel Phillips Terry

[1] https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(15)00124-5/abstract

[2] https://lab.express-scripts.com/Insights/Government-Programs/First-Look-2015-Public-Exchange-Plan-Rx-Trends

[3] https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(15)00124-5/abstract

Image and statistics courtesy of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Statistics Report: Estimates of Diabetes and Its Burden in the United States, 2014.
Atlanta, GA; 2014. Accessed Feb. 25, 2015.

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