How to Manage Diabetes Better with Technology and Humanity

Posted in Mobile Health by Nancy Crotti on May 1, 2017

App company Glooko has inked a deal with health coaching company Fit4D to improve patient outcomes.

Nancy Crotti

 

Technology can go a long way in healthcare, but sometimes, patients need a little of that human touch. Diabetes telehealth giant Glooko acknowledged that through a recent partnership with health coaching company Fit4D.

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Patients of more than 6,000 health systems in 23 countries use Glooko’s diabetes management smartphone app, according to Glooko CEO Rick Altinger. The app works with more than 170 glucose meters, insulin pumps, and continuous glucose monitors, syncing patient data and making it available to both patients and healthcare providers. Its population tracker alerts providers if the patient’s blood sugar is too high or low. The app also sends patients reminders about taking medication and testing blood.

But such app-borne reminders only go so far.  Patients might have questions between doctor appointments, and, as is being seen across the telehealth landscape, still crave human contact.

The Glooko mobile app is designed to help patients manage their diabetes better.

“Technology can go a long way,” Altinger told Qmed. “The human touch, the empathy that a coach can communicate and make a patient feel, can drive behavior change. You can’t do 100% of that with technology.”

Glooko representatives had been running into folks from Fit4D at shows and events for about four years before deciding six months ago to officially collaborate, Altinger added. Depending upon their insurer or self-insured employer, patients who have the Glooko app will soon be able to connect by phone, text or email with a Fit4D health coach.

“Diabetes is very costly,” Glooko marketing VP Michelle de Haaff told Qmed. “The self-insured employers and health plans realize that just a little bit of data-driven support can make a big difference in the overall care of an individual.”

In a widely cited study, researchers concluded that coaching type 2 diabetes patients in self-management can be effective in the short-term. Fit4D is the first of several health-coaching companies to partner with Glooko, which wasn’t ready to identify the rest just yet.

Fit4D employs 25 in New York and contracts with 100 certified diabetes educators (CDEs) nationwide, according to spokesperson Natasha Desai.

“To effectively and affordably improve health outcomes, the Fit4D solution optimizes the mix between technology and clinicians,” Desai said in an email. “For 3 months, Fit4D CDEs coach patients one-on-one at their convenience, helping them overcome barriers to health by addressing topics such as: insulin initiation, medication adherence, financial obstacles, lifestyle modifications and psychosocial hurdles.”

Fit4D has contracts with pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers, health insurers such as Humana, Healthfirst, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska, and accountable care organizations such as Acacia Health Network.

“Glooko’s mobile solution, providing access to glycemic data, complemented with contextualized lifestyle tracking, provides Fit4D even more insight into how our patients are doing so we can provide them with the support they need, when they need it most,” Desai said.

Health coaching might result in type 2 diabetes patients testing their blood glucose twice a day instead of the average daily test. Even doubling payers’ monthly $3-$6-per-patient cost to purchase glucose test strips will be worthwhile to forfend health crises and higher costs from poorly managed diabetes, according to Altinger.

“We’re both aiming for similar goals to help patients reach better glycemic control in a way that improves outcomes and lowers costs,” he said.

Nancy Crotti is a contributor to Qmed.

 

[Image credit: Pixabay and Glooko]