Help Your Employees Prevent and Better Manage Diabetes 

Julie Bitely

| 4 min read

Woman checking her blood sugar
Diabetes is a major health concern in the United States. More than 34 million Americans have diabetes and more than 88 million have prediabetes. Nearly one out of every seven health care dollars is spent on diabetes and complications it causes. At the beginning of 2019, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan started offering digital health tools to empower members to make small, sustainable changes to better manage their diabetes or prediabetes condition. The diabetes prevention program, Omada, and diabetes management program, Livongo, were made available as optional benefits to self-funded group customers.   Taking steps toward better health with real-time support and data has been key to the success of both programs, explained Carrie Ottenweller, manager, Digital Health Solutions at Blue Cross.

Helping people with pre-diabetes avoid a diabetes diagnosis

Prediabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. Left untreated, prediabetes can eventually lead to a diabetes diagnosis. Omada helps people focus on small changes through coaching, digital tools and real-time feedback. Currently, 61 customer groups are offering Omada to their employees with pre-diabetes, with 8,236 members enrolled. “Omada is different than any other program because it supports members in all areas that together ensure improved health – your weight, your activity, your stress and your diet,” a member remarked through a survey. “Accountability and motivation are consistent through your scale, health coach, health app and group/community. All these things combined make this program the difference between a diet program and a healthy lifestyle program.” Based on data collected from January 2019 to September 2020, members engaging with Omada support have lost a total of 56,176 pounds, for an average 3.8% weight loss overall. Losing weight, even a small percentage, can drastically reduce the risk for developing type 2 diabetes. For example, losing just 5-7% body fat leads to a 58% decrease in risk.
  • 802 members reduced their body weight by 3%.
  • 558 members reduced their body weight by 5%.
  • 327 members reduced their body weight by 10%.

Helping people with diabetes better manage the disease

A chronic condition, diabetes occurs when the body has difficulty turning food into energy. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to heart disease, kidney failure, blindness and other complications. Livongo helps people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes better understand how their actions affect blood glucose numbers through real-time support. Certified diabetes educators are on call for live interventions during acute events and coaching is available via phone, text message and mobile app. Testing supplies are shipped automatically to enrollees’ homes, making it easier to keep up with disease management. “With a meter that gives feedback and has entry for insulin dosage, I find myself not forgetting to check my blood glucose as often as I did before. This also reminds me to take my insulin on time,” explained one enrolled member. Currently, 93 customer groups offer Livongo to their employees, with 7,728 members taking advantage of the program. Members keep track of their HbA1c level with a goal to keep it in the 5-7% range. For enrollees with an HbA1c level above 7%, there’s been an average 0.97% decrease. That might not sound like a lot, but Ottenweller explains that every 1% reduction reduces risks for serious long-term complications:
  • 21% reduction in risk of deaths from diabetes
  • 14% reduction in risk for heart attacks
  • 43% reduction in risk of peripheral vascular disease
Ottenweller said the real-time support is critical in helping people better understand and manage their condition. In cases where a reading is too high or too low, diabetes educators call members to check in on them and if they don’t answer, an emergency contact is called to ensure the members’ levels haven’t reached a dangerous point. “That real-time coaching helps the member identify what would have caused them to have that reading that was too high or too low to help them prevent that in the future,” she said. Interested in offering diabetes prevention and diabetes management programs to your employees? Contact your Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan sales representative or agent. Related:
Photo credit: Tassii

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association