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“9,497 individuals who had…prediabetes…received a 12-month virtual DPP including a wireless scale, pedometer, nutrition tracker, educational lessons, health coaching, and peer group support through an online platform… A regression analysis of total medical and pharmacy cost for 24 months following program start showed…on average cumulative cost difference [savings] was $1,110 per participant, or $46.25/month. Medical and pharmacy costs were consistently lower for participants in the post-program year….Results suggest that a virtual DPP can change the pattern of utilization and reduce costs.”
Virtual Diabetes Prevention Program—Effects on Medicare Advantage Health Care Costs and Utilization
This study evaluated the impact of a virtual version of the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) on healthcare utilization and costs in a Medicare Advantage population. The program was offered during 2015 to a random sample of 9,497 individuals who had metabolic syndrome or prediabetes. Program enrollees (n=501) received a 12-month virtual DPP including a wireless scale, pedometer, nutrition tracker, educational lessons, health coaching, and peer group support through an online platform. Participants with available administrative claims data during the 12 months before and 24 months following program start (n=495, mean age=69 years; 64% female; 85% white) were propensity-score matched on demographic, behavioral, and clinical factors in a ratio of 1:1 to a comparison group (n=495, selected from 6,490; mean age=69 years; 58% female; 87% white) who did not receive the DPP. In the 24 months following DPP enrollment, participants averaged 0.2 inpatient admissions, 0.3 emergency department visits, and 12.2 physician visits, compared to 0.2, 0.4, and 12.0 for controls. While the utilization values do not show a large change, a difference-in-differences regression analysis of total medical and pharmacy cost for 24 months following program start showed cost savings. The adjusted difference-in-differences effect on average cumulative cost difference was $1,110 per participant, or $46.25/month. Medical and pharmacy costs were consistently lower for participants in the post-program year. Pharmacy savings were statistically significant during the last 6 months, with a 24-month cumulative adjusted savings of $408. These cost estimates do not include the cost of the program. Results suggest that a virtual DPP can change the pattern of utilization and reduce costs in a Medicare population.
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Chronic conditions account for 90% of all US healthcare spending. At the same time, 47% of physicians report feeling burnt out, and there is an estimated shortage of 3.2 million healthcare workers predicted by 2026.