Improving ROI Through Reduced Diabetes Medications

As the year gets firmly underway, it’s clear that the vast majority of employers and payers have one goal on their minds; how to eliminate low value care, decrease costs and increase ROI from their Wellness and Benefits programs. With HR Benefits teams realizing the sizable impact the COVID-19 pandemic is already having on their budgets through increased insurance claims, worsening health, lengthy hospital stays and increased sick days, it’s only natural that the pressure to find savings elsewhere has come to a crunch. That’s why, eliminating low value care for critical programs such as those for metabolic disease (prediabetes, diabetes, clinical obesity and fatty liver disease) which affects 1 in 2 US adults has become ever more urgent. 

Limitations of Traditional Diabetes Interventions

Firstly, in order to reduce costs you have to know where the budget is being spent and what return can be expected. Approximately, 7 out of 10 employers are still working with traditional interventions for metabolic disease. These are either ever-increasing medications or one-size-fits-all diets such as the Diabetes Prevention Program or the ADA Guidelines.  Others include monitoring solutions that use glucometers and strips or more radical measures like bariatric surgical procedures that restrict the amount of food the stomach can hold but do not address the root cause of the disease. At the same time, precision nutrition solutions that use Food-as-Medicine such as DayTwo are changing engagement rates and outcomes by supporting members with meals plans that work with their own biology and dietitian support from both a nutrition and behavioral science standpoint.

Why Not All Medications Are Created Equal

Type 2 Diabetes requires the careful management of blood sugar to control the disease and only in the last decade has the science advanced to the point where multiple different approaches are now available. As with many diseases, finding the right intervention that works for a particular individual can require a lot of trial and error. Similarly, when it comes to insulin shots, there are many different types on the market including short, intermediate and long acting insulins that have been developed in response to how peoples’ bodies process and react to increased doses of insulin. While this does improve the chances of successfully being able to control blood sugars for a period of time, it can also mean an increase in side effects from getting the dosage and medications wrong.

In fact, several studies have called out the many risks of taking insulin shots. A review on diabetes-related outcomes with insulin published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism compared insulin therapy with a popular Type 2 Diabetes medication that lowers blood sugar, Metformin, and found that those on insulin had increased risk of heart attack, stroke, eye complications and kidney problems. Additionally, a study by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) concluded that for some people with Type 2 diabetes the risks of taking insulin can outweigh the benefits. Plus, in general it’s well known that two major side effects that can lead to further complications are weight gain, which is especially typical when first taking insulin and severe or regular hypoglycemic events which are known to happen in approximately 40% of cases. So as you can see, medications may not be the right answer for many patients. Nor for their self-insured employers, who are burdened by the cost of their employees cycling through medications, often stacked or staircasing, and suffer the long term cost inefficiencies of increasingly poor and complex health outcomes.

Advantages of Food-as-Medicine solutions

Although Food-as-Medicine programs are not as commonly known among patients and their practitioners, their effectiveness is both scientifically and clinically proven to reduce Type 2 diabetes medications or get people off them altogether. This has resulted in significant savings on the cost of diabetes medications, and specifically insulins such as Novolog, Lantus and Toujeo.

How DayTwo Food Prescriptions™ work

DayTwo’s solution starts with the individual by first assessing their gut microbiome—a simple stool sample processed by DayTwo’s laboratory using full shotgun metagenomic sequencing.  This delivers the most granular and accurate analysis of the abundance and diversity of bacteria in the gut. The results are combined with a powerful machine learning model to accurately predict how someone will respond to specific foods and even meals. This generates a hyper-personalized Food Prescription™ which is designed to fit into the person’s eating habits and cultural food preferences. 

Things To Consider Before Making The Switch

To deliver a stronger ROI or reduce costs for Wellness and Benefits programs, it’s clear that moving away from costly medications with harmful side-effects, that do not tackle the underlying cause of the disease, is the way to go. The next question is, when is the right time to make the switch towards exploring Food-as-Medicine based solutions? And which solution is right for your population of employees and patient-members? With significantly increased Wellness and Benefits plan costs driven by the current pandemic, the only remaining question is finding the right turnkey, pilot program that gets you results within 3 months. DayTwo’s program is proven to tackle the underlying causes of metabolic disease by increasing energy, reducing hunger and improving sleep quality—all of which leads to lasting blood glucose control and better health outcomes.

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