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Omada Health launches digital health tools for conditions 'underneath pandemic'


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Omada Health launches digital health tools for conditions 'underneath pandemic'

Omada Health Inc. has launched two additional tools intended to help people with chronic conditions receive targeted care and to lower their out-of-pocket costs.

One tool is a physician-guided care program with a virtual cardiometabolic clinic for patients with hypertension and diabetes. The other is a musculoskeletal, or MSK, program that relies on computer vision instead of wearables to track patients' movements.

Chronic condition prevention and management are key focuses for many digital health companies that want to reach populations with conditions like diabetes, chronic pain, heart disease and musculoskeletal disorders. These disorders are often costly, and patients may experience more gaps in care if they require multiple visits with practitioners. Teladoc Health Inc.'s $18.5 billion buy of chronic care management company Livongo Health Inc. in August 2020 highlighted the importance of catering to this group as well as the appeal of all-in-one digital platforms.

Large drugmakers have even recognized the value of using digital health platforms for monitoring patients with chronic illnesses. The U.K.'s AstraZeneca PLC began piloting its own remote patient monitoring platform for patients with chronic conditions.

Omada's cardiometabolic platform will enable patients to meet virtually with a clinician if they need to and will also give them access to behavior change resources and diabetes and hypertension education.

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The virtual clinic care team will include physicians, health coaches and diabetes educators.
Source: Omada Health

Between visits

"We really came up with this concept of the care between visits," Omada Health's Chief Medical Officer Carolyn Jasik told S&P Global Market Intelligence in an interview. "What is the virtual care that can happen between visits that amplifies what's happening in the offline care world and really makes it stronger, and a lot more affordable and a lot more accessible?"

Even if a patient chooses to see a doctor in person, the cardiometabolic clinic can help them meet the requirements of their physician's care plan through services such as medication titration, home monitoring and lab ordering on one platform, Jasik said. This will enable patients to make the most of their primary care visits, according to Jasik.

Omada decided to start with hypertension and diabetes in part because cardiometabolic disease has been a strong predictor of who is most affected by COVID-19.

"We really feel that call to action as a company to address the major medical crisis that is underneath the pandemic, which is, of course, the main medical crisis healthcare crisis facing our country," Jasik said.

In 2022, Omada plans to expand the program to address pre-diabetes and weight management, mental health and MSK conditions.

Making sensors obsolete

In addition to the virtual cardiometabolic clinic, Omada has also launched a new MSK program for patients using its physical therapy platform. The launch follows an eight-fold increase in growth in the company's MSK tool over the past year as the pandemic has contributed to an increase in back and neck pain.

Using a smartphone, MSK patients can record their movements at home, and physical therapists deploy computer vision technology to understand the accuracy of these movements and the patients' range of motion.

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The MSK solution will allow patients to record their movements on their smartphones.
Source: Omada Health

Unlike sensor-based MSK programs, which provide mostly quantitative data, the computer vision solution delivers more qualitative data for physical therapists so that they can create the best care plan for patients, Todd Norwood, director of clinical services at Omada Health, told S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Norwood gave the example of a patient lifting their arm above their head.

"There's sort of a right way to do it, and there [are] all sorts of wonky, wrong ways to do it," Norwood said. "A sensor is only going to give me the objective and say, 'Well, it was 175 degrees.' That's great, but does that mean it was a good 175 degrees, or does that mean it was a kind of funky 175 degrees that might cause somebody pain?"

Having the ability to use a phone to record their movements can be more convenient and less costly for patients than wearables, Norwood said. Jasik added that sensors often require Bluetooth connectivity and wireless broadband, which make them less accessible to some people.

"In the next year, two years, what we're going to see is the technology with phones and all devices that consumers have in their pocket, it's going to render the wearables useless," Norwood said.

Evernorth Health Inc., the healthcare services arm of medical insurer Cigna Corp., will add the MSK computer vision solution to its digital health formulary later this year. The formulary, which already includes Omada's diabetes and cardiometabolic programs, helps employers decide which digital health tools to include in their health plans. The formulary also includes offerings from other companies, such as Livongo for hypertension and diabetes, Reciprocal Labs Corp. for asthma and Silvercloud Health Inc. for mental health.

"It's just been a wonderful contribution because before [the formulary] it really was kind of a Wild West, where the benefits professionals and employers had to discern and choose their own programs, and that's hard," Jasik said. "Having that partnership from Evernorth really adds a lot to the process."

Expanding access, decreasing cost

Chronic conditions and mental health conditions make up most healthcare expenditures in the U.S., and Omada's tools are intended to alleviate some of that cost burden, particularly for patients, Jasik said.

Many of Omada's programs are co-pay free, according to Jasik, and even programs that require some co-pay are generally more affordable than traditional care. For example, going to multiple doctors for a sprained ankle could result in high costs for patients, but reaching out to a physical therapist on Omada's MSK platform first can streamline care and reduce unnecessary spending.

Jasik also noted that because Omada is collecting patient data constantly, the company can work closely with employers and health plans to show them how patient outcomes are improving and what their return on investment looks like.

"With these two solutions, we're really trying to put out things that are evidence-based that will improve outcomes and really help put healthcare on a better path versus putting out flashy things that sound good but don't deliver," Jasik said.