AMA becomes advisor to Omada Health in its rollout of a diabetes prevention program at Intermountain

By Heather Mack
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San Francisco-based Omada Health, an online and mobile behavioral medicine company, announced today a partnership with the American Medical Association and a new customer, Utah-based Intermountain Healthcare system, which will offer Omada’s flagship diabetes prevention program (DPP), Prevent, to its patients.

The Prevent program aims to reduce the number of adults who develop type 2 diabetes. All three organizations will collaborate to integrate Omada’s diabetes prevention program into Intermountain’s system, with the AMA acting as an advisor to Omada to help it better understand how to make Prevent better integrate into providers' workflows.

“The addition of Omada to Intermountain’s diabetes prevention program will expand patient access to a CDC-recognized program,” Dr. Elizabeth Joy, medical director of Intermountain’s Community Health and Clinical Nutrition program said in a statement. “We anticipate that access to the Omada program will enhance patient engagement and improve health outcomes.”

The initiative will combine the AMA’s efforts to raise prediabetes awareness nationally and Intermountain’s population health strategies by using Omada’s Prevent program. Doctors and care teams will be able to refer patients to, and monitor their progress through the online and app-based program.

The partnership comes just a month after Dr. James Madara, CEO of AMA  (which at one time offered its own consumer-facing weight-management app) referred to digital health as “snake oil,” citing the lack of evidence or effectiveness of many apps. The timing of the AMA's partnership with Omada, then, point to the company's focus on the importance of efficacy. Omada has published peer-reviewed results demonstrating the effectiveness of its program in helping participants maintain weight loss and reduced blood sugar levels, and the HHS announced last year that it would cover the Diabetes Prevention Program, including digital versions like Omada’s.

DPPs have been around for awhile, but digital versions like Omada's are more recent innovations. A recent report by the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) reviewed the comparative clinical effectiveness and value of CDC-recognized diabetes prevention programs DPPs. The report showed the results of a panel of experts who looked at three models – in-person programs, digital programs with human coaching and digital programs with fully-automated coaching. While in-person programs were rated the highest, the digital programs with human coaching were also found to have a health benefit “superior to that of usual care.” The panel did not find sufficient evidence that fully automated programs were adequate, but recognized a potential for benefit, especially in regards to scalability. 

“Research shows that participation in evidence-based diabetes prevention programs can cut the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by nearly 60 percent,” AMA President Dr. Andrew Gurman said in a statement. “Online technology such as Omada’s program will help Intermountain physicians and care teams stay connected with their patients as they take proactive steps outside of the clinical setting to prevent type 2 diabetes. By bridging this gap, treatment touch-points with patients over the course of their time in the online program can be more meaningful and impactful, which we believe is a win for both patients and their providers.”

The AMA will work with Omada and Intermountain every step of the way – ensuring the physician's perspective is taken into account Omada iterates its offering. AMA will also advise Omada on ways to better integrate with clinical workflows and EHRs, taking the findings they develop over the next several months to create a roadmap that can help other health systems adopt digital health.Levis X Jordan 6