Medtronic, Canary Health Form Partnership for Diabetes Prevention, Improved Self-Management

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The partnership will allow Medtronic to scale Canary Health's diabetes prevention programs to reach a wider audience and bring Canary's self-management platform into customer support for its devices.

The medical technology company Medtronic and digital health provider Canary Health announced a partnership this week that will allow the company best known for insulin pumps to move into diabetes prevention, which Medicare will pay for come January 2017.

“We are very excited about the addition of Canary Health’s well-established and reimbursable self-management programs to our portfolio of diabetes management solutions,” said Annette Bruls, president for Diabetes Service and Solutions at Medtronic.

“This new relationship with Canary Health enables us to offer healthcare organizations broader, deeper and more holistic diabetes management solutions that improve clinical outcomes and bend the cost curve as we pursue value-based healthcare models,” she said.

Canary Health President and CEO Adam Kaufman, in an interview with The American Journal of Managed Care, said the partnership has 2 elements:


· Medtronic’s size will help Canary Health scale its Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) to reach a wider audience, with a minimum target of 50,000 people and an upper goal of 200,000 for 2017, Kaufman said. Canary has CDC recognition to deliver the DPP, an evidence-based program that has only reached about 1% of the estimated 86 million people with prediabetes.

· The second element seeks what Kaufman called a “tighter integration” of Canary’s self-management programs with Medtronic’s support services for patients who use its diabetes devices. Kaufman said empowering patients goes beyond “just telling patients what to do.” Canary’s system, he said, gives patients deep insights into the relationship between individual behaviors and health outcomes, and it customizes support to patient goals.

Prevention. When asked if more payers are embracing diabetes prevention, Kaufman said the March 23, 2016, announcement that Medicare would start reimbursing DPP has created a cascade effect across healthcare, with payers and employers who had been weighing reimbursement now moving to cover prevention.

“It’s been a major new trend since the CMS announcement,” he said. “We’re seeing a huge interest from the retirement plans.”

Empowerment. Kaufman said the Canary self-management platform is based on the program developed at Stanford University by Katie Lorig, DrPH, which is widely used for in-person education. The digital version embraces the same principles of getting patients to work on healthcare goals that matter most to them, Kaufman said. This runs counter to the way most physicians are trained, but in diabetes care, it’s essential.

“She’s taught us that it takes a little bit of a leap of faith with one or more chronic conditions,” Kaufman said. “Almost every time, if patients work on the things they want to work on, they start improving their (overall) health as well.”

A central feature of the Stanford program is the action plan, which is a very specific outline of how patients will achieve goals over a specified time frame. Patients cannot have an action plan of, “exercise,” but, for example, must plan to walk on specific days for set periods of time during a week.

Kaufman said the drive toward more emphasis on prevention and self-management—and a willingness to pay for it—is a direct result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). After taking a few years to get patients enrolled and work through other issues, the ACA’s focus on value-based care is bearing fruit, he said.

With new payment models based on outcomes, Kaufman said, “Digital health and self-management become much easier.”