CDPHP diabetes program uses self-injecting insulin pump

Monday, August 26, 2019

Source: Times Union

This time last year, Gerard Barr was having trouble managing his type 1 diabetes and lost his job as a school bus driver.

Then the Cohoes resident learned about a new program offered by his health insurer, CDPHP. Through a partnership with the medical device maker Medtronic, they offered him access to insulin technology that automatically tests his blood sugar and adjusts his insulin in real time, without ever having to prick a finger or administer insulin himself.

"Today, I've improved my A1C and I'm on my way to a healthier lifestyle," he said, referring to a test that measures blood sugar levels. "Not only do I feel better, but I started driving again."

CDPHP recently entered into a four-year partnership with Medtronic to give more of its members access to the technology through a new patient engagement program. With nearly 1 in 10 U.S. adults and nearly 26,000 of its own members living with diabetes, the Albany-based health insurer said the program's aim is to help members more effectively manage the condition.

"The rising cost and prevalence of the disease is putting a major strain on health systems and patients nationwide," said CDPHP President and CEO John Bennett. "This partnership focuses on delivering patient-centered solutions to improve outcomes while reducing soaring health care costs."

The program was developed by Medtronic and uses game design elements to motivate people with diabetes to achieve better health outcomes. Central to this effort is Medtronic's insulin technology, which spent years in development before being approved as the world's first self-injecting insulin pump system by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In 2016, Time Magazine named it one of the 25 best inventions of the year.

Called the MiniMed 670G, it was designed to act as an artificial pancreas — producing the insulin that people with diabetes are either unable to produce on their own or are unable to make good use of. Through sensor technology, it monitors glucose levels and automatically adjusts insulin delivery up or down every five minutes, 24 hours a day.

The technology has been a game-changer for people living with diabetes, who must monitor their blood glucose levels closely throughout the day and after meals in order to avoid the life-threatening complications of high or low blood sugar.

"Our ultimate goal is to elevate the patient experience, improve clinical outcomes and provide unmatched support to health plan members," said Suzanne Winter, vice president of the Americas region for the Diabetes Group at Medtronic.

CDPHP first partnered with Medtronic to mount a pilot program matching the technology with its members a year ago.

It provided pumps to 224 members, who gained an extra two hours a day in a healthy glucose range using the technology. Members saw a 40 percent drop in time spent in a low glucose range during overnight hours, and a 19 percent drop in time spent in a high glucose range during all hours.

The program is available to all current insulin-dependent diabetics, as well as any newly diagnosed, CDPHP spokeswoman Ali Skinner said. Their physicians must recommend them to the program, she said.

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