Published March 22, 2011
Atlanta residents are among the first in the United States to have access to Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance community-based programs that use proven approaches to help prevent and control diabetes.
The two Alliance programs – available at no cost to participants – are:
The Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance was launched in 2010 by founding partners UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), Walgreens (NYSE, NASDAQ: WAG), the Y and others.
Diabetes cost the country an estimated $194 billion in 2010. More than 50 percent of Americans could have diabetes or prediabetes by 2020 if current trends continue, according to an analysis from the UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform & Modernization, which predicts diabetes and prediabetes will 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.
In Georgia nearly 10 percent of the adult population has diabetes, including about 354,000 people who are unaware of their condition, according to the Georgia Department of Community Health. Diabetes costs the state an estimated $5.1 billion annually, according to Department estimates from 2006, the latest year for which data are available.
“Diabetes is taking a devastating toll on our children, our families and our communities in Atlanta, but we have a program that is proven to help prevent the disease,” said Catherine Palmier, M.D., chief medical director for UnitedHealthcare’s southeast region. “Diabetes is largely preventable – it is the small lifestyle decisions we make every day that make the biggest impact. These programs provide an opportunity for people in Atlanta to take control of their own health and tackle this disease.”
Delta Air Lines is one of the Alliance’s first customers in the area to offer the programs to its employees.
“Delta Air Lines is committed to helping our employees live healthy lives, and we are intensifying that effort by making the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance programs available to our employees and their dependents,” said Lynn Zonakis, Delta’s managing director of Health Strategy and Resources. “Through the DPCA and other programs, our 25,000 Atlanta-based employees are able to take better control of their health and learn healthy behaviors that help them lead more productive lives now and into the future.”
There is substantial evidence that supports early and aggressive intervention to help people avoid the health and financial toll of diabetes. The programs at the Y and Walgreens have been tested in controlled clinical trials or pilot projects with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Y, Indiana University, clinical centers, employers and retail pharmacies.
Novo Nordisk (NYSE: NVO), a world leader in diabetes care and a DPCA partner, works with health care professionals to create awareness and understanding of the value of the Alliance’s two anchor programs and helps them refer their patients to the appropriate program.
Diabetes Prevention Program: Addressing Weight and Lifestyle to Prevent Diabetes
The Diabetes Prevention Program is offered in Atlanta in partnership with the Y and is part of CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program. It is designed to bring evidence-based lifestyle interventions to communities by working with community-based organizations and third-party payers who adhere to a CDC-recognized, evidence-based curriculum. UnitedHealth Group and the Y are partners in the National Diabetes Prevention Program.
The program, offered by the Y, uses a group-based lifestyle intervention designed especially for people with prediabetes (people who are at high risk of developing diabetes). In an interactive group setting, a trained lifestyle coach helps participants change their lifestyle by educating them about healthy eating, physical activity and behavior modifications over a 16-session program. After the initial 16 core sessions, participants meet monthly for up to one year for added support to help them maintain their progress.
Research from the Diabetes Prevention Program clinical trial, led by the NIH with support from the CDC, has shown that with lifestyle changes and modest weight reduction, a person with prediabetes can prevent or delay the onset of the disease.
Diabetes Control Program: Reducing Dangerous, Costly Diabetes Complications
The Diabetes Control Program is offered in Atlanta in partnership with Walgreens. It provides people with diabetes access to trained Walgreens pharmacists and nurse practitioners who provide personalized coaching and counseling and who help patients improve adherence to their physicians’ treatment plans. The goal is for patients to improve blood glucose control – every percentage point drop in HbA1c levels, a commonly used blood glucose marker, reduces by 40 percent the risk of developing complications from diabetes such as heart disease, nerve disease, blindness and limb amputations.
“Walgreens is proud to partner with UnitedHealth Group to bring this comprehensive diabetes treatment and self-care management program to Atlanta,” said Colin Watts, Walgreens chief innovation officer. “We believe the Diabetes Control Program is an ideal model for treating one of the most pervasive and costly chronic diseases in the country. For years, Walgreens has been committed to serving the needs of people with diabetes, and we are customizing many of the program elements of Walgreens Optimal Wellness™, a national program capitalizing on the power of face-to-face interaction with a trusted Walgreens pharmacist or nurse practitioner, for application in the Diabetes Control Program. Walgreens is excited to bring this initiative to Atlanta and looks forward to collaborating with such a strong and innovative partner.”
Home Healthcare Laboratory of America (HHLA), a subsidiary of Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings, another Alliance partner, provides screening tests to Control Program participants through the use of Lab-in-an-Envelope® services for use at home. HHLA mails HbA1c and lipid panel testing kits to participants every three months to provide a convenient method for them to regularly monitor blood glucose control and cholesterol levels.
Alliance Programs Rolling Out Nationally
Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance programs are available now in 13 markets in 10 states, including Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton, Ohio; Indianapolis; Minneapolis; Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; Oklahoma City; Albuquerque, N.M.; New York; Livingston, N.J.; New Haven, Conn; and Atlanta. This year, the DPCA programs are launching in Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington and Houston, Texas; Washington, D.C.; and Jacksonville and Orlando, Fla. The Alliance programs will continue to roll out in additional cities across the country through 2012.
Services offered by the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance may be contracted by any health insurer and plan sponsor. The Alliance marks the first time in the United States that a health plan is paying for evidence-based diabetes prevention and engaging pharmacists to support critical diabetes management programs. Currently, DPCA services are available at no out-of-pocket cost to participants enrolled in employer-provided health insurance plans through UnitedHealthcare and Medica.
The Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance is one of many UnitedHealth Group programs and services that fight diabetes, obesity and related health problems in creative, practical ways to help improve health care quality, expand support and coverage, and help bend the cost curve.
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About UnitedHealth Group
UnitedHealth Group is a diversified health and well-being company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making health care work better. With headquarters in Minnetonka, Minn., UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through six operating businesses: UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual, UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement, UnitedHealthcare Community & State, OptumHealth, Ingenix and Prescription Solutions. Through its family of businesses, UnitedHealth Group serves more than 75 million people worldwide. Visit www.unitedhealthgroup.com for more information.
Walgreens (www.walgreens.com) is the nation's largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2010 sales of $67 billion. The company operates 7,689 drugstores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Each day, Walgreens provides nearly 6 million customers the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice in communities across America. Walgreens scope of pharmacy services includes retail, specialty, infusion, medical facility and mail service, along with respiratory services. These services improve health outcomes and lower costs for payers including employers, managed care organizations, health systems, pharmacy benefit managers and the public sector. Take Care Health Systems is a Walgreens subsidiary that is the largest and most comprehensive manager of worksite health centers and in-store convenient care clinics, with more than 700 locations throughout the country.
About the Y
The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,687 Ys engage 21 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. ymca.net.
About the National Diabetes Prevention Program
The National Diabetes Prevention Program is managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The program is establishing a network of evidence-based lifestyle intervention programs for those at high risk of type 2 diabetes. CDC’s role with the National Diabetes Prevention Program includes helping train the work force that can implement the program cost effectively and setting standards that will help ensure program quality and consistency. Visit www.cdc.gov/diabetes/projects/prevention_program.htm for more information.