Fruit Street Health, a New York City-based telemedicine company, says it's the first organization to be recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to deliver its National Diabetes Prevention Program through classes delivered by live video feed.
The DPP is based on research that found people at risk for diabetes can prevent or delay the its onset by losing a modest amount of weight through diet and exercise. Participants in the program's lifestyle intervention group were able to reduce their risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent during the study.
The DPP originally focused on groups of 10 to 20 prediabetes patients meeting with trained lifestyle coaches at places such as the YMCA, attending 16 hour-long group classes in the first six months, and then once a month for the second six months.But driving to the classes which could be challenging for some patients – many of whom, especially in rural locations, lived as much as an hour away.
Fruit Street will give patients the option to attend DPP classes through group telehealth calls, conducted by a registered dietitian. Each patient is given a Fitbit, wireless scale, and a mobile app developed by the company that lets them take pictures of their food and then get feedback from a lifestyle coach. The wi-fi scale records the weight of the patients throughout program, with the Fitbit transmitting exercise data back to the dietitian in a HIPAA-compliant way.
"There are other successful virtual diabetes prevention programs, but Fruit Street is very different from these virtual models," CEO Laurence Girard said in a statement. "Many patients would prefer to speak with a live registered dietitian and the other participants in the group via live video conferencing which is more similar to an in-person interaction. The fact patients can do these classes from the convenience of their home or office via telehealth makes the Fruit Street telehealth DPP model a great option for patients.”