Quest Diagnostics reports positive results from diabetes prevention programs, as CMS stalls on those same programs

By Jonah Comstock
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Working with digital diabetes prevention program (DPP) provider Omada Health — and combining that intervention with lab and biometric screenings — lab company Quest Diagnostics reduced risk for diabetes in one-third of a 107-employee cohort.

"Many employers are eager to implement employee wellness programs that drive better health and cost outcomes, but are unsure of how best to achieve these goals," lead researcher Charles E. Birse, scientific director at Quest Diagnostics, said in a statement. "This study demonstrates a viable two-step solution — identifying people at higher risk using objective lab and biometric measures and then supporting their access to programs to modify behaviors and thereby reduce those risks." 

Using deidentified data, researchers selected a cohort of employees whose biometric screenings and lab results suggested they were at risk for pre-diabetes or diabetes, and who also completed Omada's program. They then compared data generated by the cohort from before and after the program.

What they found was that 32 percent of the group acheived normal blood glucose and  HbA1C levels at the end of the program. In addition, 29 percent of employees lost 5 percent or more of their bodyweight.

"Workplace wellness programs are the only meaningful interaction many people have with the healthcare system, but it's the employers who foot most of the bill for care costs," Dr. Jay Wohlgemuth, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Quest Diagnostics, said in a statement. "This study demonstrates that a population management strategy that combines screening with targeted intervention can meaningfully improve health outcomes and, ultimately, lower costs for employers and their employees."

The study comes at an interesting time for DPPs, which have lately run into something of a policy roadblock in the United States. DPPs have been regarded as a great hope and success story for digital health for some time, but, as Politico reported today in a paywalled article, they have had difficulty finding traction with the current administration at CMS. 

Digital programs in particular have still not secured reimbursement and the optimism around that happening has waned considerably. Even the more proven in-person DPPs have acheived considerably smaller deployment than expected — only 70 programs are live around the country, according to Politico, compared to an expectation in previous CMS rulemaking that 71,000 participants would seek reimbursement during 2018.