Best Business Neighbor Award - Finalist, UnitedHealth Group

 Finalist: UnitedHealth Group

Diabetes and prediabetes affect 105 million people in the U.S. and more than half of all Americans could develop these conditions by 2020, at a cost of $3.35 trillion over the next decade. UnitedHealth Group’s efforts to tackle this epidemic go far beyond traditional corporate citizenship. A true business “neighbor,” UnitedHealth Group is applying vast resources and technological expertise to create an integrated diabetes prevention and management portfolio to help reverse this public health crisis.

UnitedHealth Group is applying vast resources and technological expertise to create an integrated diabetes prevention and management portfolio to help reverse this public health crisis.

At the heart of this initiative is the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance (DPCA). Launched in 2010, the DPCA is bringing to national scale community-based programs clinically proven to help prevent and control diabetes.

It’s anchored by two programs: the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the YMCA, designed to prevent the disease through healthy eating, exercise and lifestyle changes; and the Diabetes Control Program (DCP), collaborating with retail pharmacies, designed to help people with diabetes better control their condition through education and support from trained local pharmacists.

The Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance is more than good corporate citizenship; it’s giving people the tools to take control of their condition and live healthier lives.

The Overall Strategy

UnitedHealth Group’s mission is to help people live healthier lives; and the DPCA is a signature component of its company-wide effort to address the rising epidemic of diabetes as part of this core mission.

Among UnitedHealth Group’s core competencies are extensive data, technology and analytics capabilities that help identify at-risk individuals and improve care outcomes. The DPCA is underpinned by sophisticated health IT capabilities and powerful advanced analytics that not only help identify people at risk for diabetes, but also enable potentially life-saving, evidence-based disease prevention and management programs and simplify payments.

As it scales nationally, the DPCA is helping to shift public focus from treatment to prevention and wellness, and engaging people in taking a more active role in their own health care. Its aim is to connect millions to life-changing programs and enable widespread, cost-effective program roll-outs in cities across the U.S.

Simply put, UnitedHealth Group’s DPCA initiative is laying the foundation for a healthier America by tackling a disease that is taking a tremendous toll on our health and resources. This could ultimately improve quality of life and reduce health care costs for everyone.

Measuring Success

The potential impact of expanding the DPCA nationally is enormous. Diabetes and prediabetes could account for an estimated 10 percent of total health care spending by the end of the decade at an annual cost of almost $500 billion if lifestyle intervention and disease management programs are not adopted more widely and current trends continue.

Clearly, as the DPCA continues to reach more people, it could not only improve quality of life for individuals with prediabetes and diabetes, but also translate into real savings across the health system.

The program’s potential is becoming widely recognized. Currently, the DPCA programs are available to more than 2 million people through the more than 60 large U.S. employers who have signed up for the programs. It will be expanded to include Medicare and Medicaid programs later this year.

The DPCA’s two components - the DPP and the DCP - are evidence-based programs that have been proven to either prevent the onset of diabetes in those with prediabetes or better manage diabetes in diagnosed individuals.

Both programs have been tested through controlled trials and pilot programs with the NIH, the CDC, the YMCA, Indiana University, clinical centers, employers and retail pharmacies:

  • The NIH-funded clinical trial for the DPP found that an intensive lifestyle intervention could reduce the development of diabetes by 58 percent in adults with prediabetes.
  • For the DCP, a five-year pilot program demonstrated that pharmacists could help individuals take better control of their diabetes and deliver improved blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure results. More than 50 percent of patients demonstrated improvements at each visit.

Early results confirm what clinical trials conducted by the NIH, the CDC and Indiana University found: it is successfully promoting lifestyle changes and a modest weight reduction of five percent, which helps people with prediabetes prevent or delay the onset of the disease.
In addition, rigorous third-party study is currently being conducted to evaluate outcomes of the Diabetes Prevention Program,

Since its launch, the DPCA has welcomed new partners including Novo Nordisk, Home Healthcare Laboratory of America, Walgreens, Albertson’s LLC and The Kroger Co. DPCA programs are available now in 17 markets in 11 states and will continue to roll out in additional cities across the country this year and through 2012.