UnitedHealth Group announced plans this morning to distribute a device-driven diabetes management model to 230,000 employer-sponsored members with Type 2 diabetes at no additional cost.
The pilot program, called Level2 by UnitedHealthcare, provides members with a Dexcom G6 continuous glucose monitor (CGM) that connects to their smartphone, a Fitbit activity tracker, personalized coaching and virtual specialist consultations. The latter two services can be delivered via voice, text or video chat, and aim to develop care plans and assist with medication management.
Level2 will also incentivize the members it enrolls to continue healthy behaviors with rewards such as gift cards or cash. The stipulations for these will vary between states and plans, UnitedHealth said, but could include step goals, wearing the CGM, meeting with a virtual coach, reporting behaviors in the Level2 app or simply enrolling.
Members in 27 states and Washington D.C. are now eligible for the program, and it will be made available to "select employers with self-funded plans" later in 2020. The payer also noted that the Level2 model could see deployment among members with other chronic conditions down the road.
WHAT'S THE IMPACT?
Level2's tech-assisted approach to chronic care was tested in a pilot study of more than 790 UnitedHealthcare members. According to the company, "certain" participants recorded clinical A1C reduction within 90 days, and those with a starting A1C over 8% achieved reductions greater than 1% on average.
The company's announcement also highlighted the Level2 program's ability to spot sudden blood-sugar changes that could signal infection with COVID-19, and noted worsened COVID-19 outcomes among Type 2 diabetes patients with uncontrolled blood sugar.
“With diabetes rates on the rise and people with the condition at higher risk for complications if they get COVID-19, UnitedHealth Group’s expansion of Level2 is using technology to help more Americans stabilize their blood sugar and, for some, even achieve diabetes remission,” Dr. Amy Meister, CEO of Level2, told MobiHealthNews in an email statement. “Through Level2, the combination of wearable technology, coaching and personalized recommendations is making a meaningful difference for enrolled members, helping participants gain real-time insights to drive long-term, sustainable lifestyle changes and achieve improved well-being.”
THE LARGER TREND
A number of diabetes-tech vendors have highlighted the role CGMs and accompanying support programs can play in managing the condition, both in terms of outcomes and costs. But UnitedHealth Group's new model also brings to mind the various wellness programs employed by the payer and others, which similarly use devices like Fitbits and Apple Watches to track healthy behaviors and award monetary incentives.