The top status comes as digital providers, such as Omada Health, are trying to convince CMS to include them in the Medicare National Diabetes Prevention Program program.
Omada Health, the largest provider of digital diabetes prevention programs, has received full recognition from CDC, a key designation that payers and employers look for when selecting providers.
Full recognition under the National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) takes at least 2 years and comes after providers have received pending recognition, which Omada received in 2015. Providers must undergo a lengthy curriculum review and meet minimum standards for user engagement and participant weight loss. Also, a percentage of participants must take a blood test to qualify for participation.
CDC is the keeper of standards for the National DPP, which grew out of a 2002 study by the National Institutes of Health, which showed that a specific lifestyle modification program could reduce progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes (T2D) by 58%, and by 71% among seniors. Historically, most of the programs offered have been in-person group sessions, but in recent years, virtual programs offered online have become popular with employers and health plans, to reach people in remote areas or who are unlikely to show up at a class every week.
While there are other digital companies with full recognition status—including Noom and Canary Health—Omada says it is the largest provider to date to achieve this milestone, having enrolled more than 150,000 participants.
In a statement, the company emphasized its experience with health plans, its initiatives with outcomes-based pricing, and 10 peer-reviewed studies that show its programs help participants lose weight and achieve lower long-term glycated hemoglobin (A1C) levels. Last fall, for example, results published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care found that after 3 years, participants who took part in 4 or more sessions and 9 or more sessions achieved sustained weight loss of 3% and 2.9% respectively, with an absolute reduction in A1C of 0.31% and 0.33%, respectively.1
Sean Duffy, Omada co-founder and CEO, praised the milestone as the culmination of years of work that began in 2011. “Full recognition is a validation of our proprietary curriculum, our ability to engage and retain participants, and above all, the outcomes we achieve with individuals at risk for type 2 diabetes,” Duffy said. “As we continue to build integrated partnerships with health plans and employers, customers can be sure that their members are receiving a scalable, adaptable, best-in-class DPP solution.”
The timing comes as Omada Health and other digital DPP providers are trying to convince CMS to let them take part in offering the program to Medicare beneficiaries. The program launched in April after years of study, but right now only in-person programs are eligible for reimbursement. Omada in particular was surprised by this decision, having worked closely with the Obama administration on development of Medicare DPP under the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.
Said Omada Health spokesman Adam Brickman, “Wednesday's announcement of achieving full recognition is another proof point in favor of including virtual DPP providers in Medicare DPP—it’s objective evidence from another agency within HHS that virtual DPP programs can (and do) deliver high-quality outcomes at scale, while maintaining fidelity to all of the standards of the program as established. As CMS continues to indicate that the MDPP program lacks the number of suppliers necessary to create equitable access to the program for beneficiaries, we're hopeful that they are collaborating with all stakeholders—especially their colleagues in CDC, who can attest to the effectiveness of virtual DPP programs with many populations, including seniors.”
Digital providers have argued that without their help, CMS will never be able to reach the 22 million seniors with prediabetes. Wednesday’s action demonstrates that a national virtual-focused provider can meet the highest-level of CDC recognition while scaling services to a large user base, the company said.
“One of the things we are proudest of as we achieve full recognition is the number, and the diversity, of participants we serve at Omada,” Brickman said in an email. “The data set we submitted to CDC included information on participants from all over the country, from individuals in their 20s and those over 65, and from a wide range of incomes. Meeting the standards for percentage of participants entering the program via blood test, as well as achieving engagement and outcome standards required by CDC with such a large population presents some unique challenges—including making sure we are tuning our program to specific regional and demographic needs, and ensuring our coaches are not only responsive, but proactively communicating to participants to keep them engaged.”
1. Sepah SC, Jiang L, Ellis RJ, McDermott K, Peters AL. Engagement and outcomes in a digital Diabetes Prevention Program: 3-year update. BMJ Open Diabetes Res Care. 2017;5(1):e000422. doi: 10.1136/bmjdrc-2017-000422