Can Reality Programming Help to Prevent Diabetes? Stay Tuned

Thursday, March 15th, 2012
This post was written by Patricia Donovan

Think “The Real Patients with Diabetes:” a reality series follows six patients with Type 2 diabetes.

While it may not draw the legions of viewers of a “Real Housewives” franchise, UnitedHealth Group hopes this type of programming can impact a more dire reality: the number of individuals who will develop type 2 diabetes.

To pilot the power of television as a diabetes prevention medium, the Minnesota-based payor and Comcast are seeking viewers in the Knoxville, TN area to watch the 16-episode NOT ME &#174 video on demand (VOD) programming. NOT ME uses a reality TV format to follows six adults with prediabetes as they go through the Diabetes Prevention Program.

Each VOD episode will feature a health and wellness coach leading a class of real participants who are working to reach a healthier weight and reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Between each episode, participants in the UnitedHealth Group study will practice at home the skills they learn from the program.

Participants in the pilot also will be given tracking assignments each week and opportunities to put what they learn into action.

NOT ME is based on the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program, which brings evidence-based lifestyle interventions to communities by working through organizations that adhere to CDC-recognized, evidence-based standards.

Meanwhile, new market research by the Healthcare Intelligence Network indicates that successful diabetes management necessitates a delicate balance of primary care, patient education, case management and medication monitoring.

The 80-some healthcare organizations that responded to the 2011 e-survey report that while the primary care physician is still the primary influencer in diabetes care, case managers and certified diabetes educators (CDEs) increasingly round out the care team.

Also supporting the plan of care are health coaches (live and via telephone) and support groups.

Respondents’ efforts appear to be working: one-fifth of respondents report program ROI of between 2:1 and 3:1.

Since the goal of any diabetes management program is to guide the patient toward successful self-management of the disease, education is paramount. Many respondents reported the presence of case managers and/or nurses who have trained as CDEs. One respondent even offers patients a choice between a pharmacist, a registered dietician or a CDE.

Printed materials were overwhelmingly the most common educational component, reported by 78 percent of respondents. Thirty-five percent offer Web-based education tools.

With all of the challenges facing patients with diabetes, should patients be incentivized for successful self-management of their disease? Three-quarters of survey respondents say yes.

In fact, almost a third of respondents — 30.4 percent — already offer patients and health plan members incentives for compliance with their plans of care.

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