UnitedHealth Group and Comcast Diabetes Prevention Program Video-On-Demand Pilot Study Delivers Initial Results

May 15, 2012
  • Response suggests great potential for use of programs to fight obesity, diabetes
  • Study evaluates effectiveness of delivering proven clinical program through on demand reality TV show format

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) and Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) announced they have met enrollment targets for an innovative pilot study to evaluate the effectiveness of using video on demand (VOD) to deliver the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). This response suggests great promise that in-home delivery of this program will be able to attract interest among individuals at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Enrollment reached full capacity – 310 people – within just one month of the study launch in the Philadelphia and Knoxville, Tenn., test markets. Study participants have access to television episodes presented as new VOD programming on Comcast’s Xfinity® On Demand platform.

“Making the Diabetes Prevention Program available in people’s homes through video on demand will make the program more broadly available in a convenient and cost-effective way,” said Deneen Vojta, M.D., senior vice president, UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform & Modernization. “Our goal is to expand the reach of this proven program to more people in need of help and still deliver meaningful results.”

In addition to meeting enrollment objectives, the study found that the 310 study participants have begun reporting positive feedback and full engagement with the program. The VOD programming aims to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes through healthy eating, increased physical activity and other lifestyle changes. It is modeled on the DPP, an evidence-based lifestyle change program developed from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Diabetes Prevention Program curriculum.

“We are pleased to be working with UnitedHealth Group to help raise awareness about this devastating disease and deliver this proven program in an innovative way using our Xfinity On Demand platform,” said Mark Coblitz, senior vice president of Strategic Planning for Comcast. “Our VOD service has fundamentally changed the way people watch television by giving them TV when they want, where they want. We think this platform has great potential to deliver health education on consumers’ terms.”

Bringing a Proven Program Home
The Diabetes Prevention Program is an innovative lifestyle change program conducted in a group setting that helps people with prediabetes and who are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes prevent or delay the disease through healthy eating, increased physical activity and other lifestyle changes. It is a year-long program with 16 weekly sessions and then monthly follow-up. It is part of the National Diabetes Prevention Program led by the CDC.

UnitedHealth Group, in partnership with the Y and CDC, has been helping the lifestyle change program achieve national scale through the “NOT ME”® program from the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance, an employer- and community-based initiative aimed at tipping the scales against type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and obesity.

The new VOD study was designed by Ronald T. Ackermann, M.D., MPH, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, who conducted the original Diabetes Prevention Program translational pilot and is considered a national expert in the prevention and control of common chronic illnesses.

“Delivering the Diabetes Prevention Program at local Y branches reduced program costs to roughly one-eighth the amount of the traditional Diabetes Prevention Program intervention, while achieving striking results,” said Dr. Ackermann. “Bringing the program into people’s homes through video on demand holds the promise to make this clinically proven prevention program even more accessible and cost-effective.”

The 16-episode NOT ME VOD programming uses a reality TV format that follows six adults who are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes (a condition known as prediabetes) as they go through the Diabetes Prevention Program. Each VOD episode features a health and wellness coach leading a class of program participants who are working to reach a healthier weight and reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Between each episode, study participants practice at home the skills they learn from the program. Study participants also are given tracking assignments each week and opportunities to put what they learn into action. The goal for participants in the group lifestyle change program is to lose 5-7 percent of their body weight, which has been proven to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by more than half.

The six individuals featured in the reality TV programming lost an average of 8.1 percent of their body weight during the 16-week program, a total of 122 pounds.

The 310 VOD study participants have an average BMI of 35.6, with 19 percent of the group overweight (with a BMI between 25 and 29) and 81 percent in the category of obese (BMI of 30 or higher). Initial study results are expected to be available in September. Upon completion of the study, UnitedHealth Group and Comcast will evaluate making the Diabetes Prevention Program available on the Xfinity On Demand platform in additional communities across the country. According to the CDC, more than one third (35.7%) of U.S. adults are obese.

Comcast helped create awareness about the VOD pilot through a series of television public service announcements (PSAs) in Philadelphia and Knoxville. Among the 310 participants, more than half reported learning about the study through the media, including newspaper articles as well as the PSAs, showing the effectiveness of direct-to-consumer outreach. Another 32 percent of the participants reported being referred to the study by their employers.

Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes, and another 79 million American adults are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, according to the CDC. Diabetes cost the country an estimated $206 billion in 2011. If current trends continue, more than half of all Americans will have diabetes or prediabetes at an annual cost of $512 billion by 2021, according to the UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform & Modernization.

About Comcast Corporation
Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) (www.comcast.com) is one of the world’s leading media, entertainment and communications companies. Comcast is principally involved in the operation of cable systems through Comcast Cable and in the development, production and distribution of entertainment, news, sports and other content for global audiences through NBCUniversal. Comcast Cable is one of the nation’s largest video, high-speed Internet and phone providers to residential and business customers. Comcast is the majority owner and manager of NBCUniversal, which owns and operates entertainment and news cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, local television station groups, television production operations, a major motion picture company and theme parks.

About UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) 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 two distinct platforms: UnitedHealthcare, which provides health care coverage and benefits services; and Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled health services. Through its businesses, UnitedHealth Group serves more than 75 million people worldwide. Visit www.unitedhealthgroup.com for more information. 

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