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Diabetes beyond digital

Tech tools alone don’t bring sustainable metabolic health outcomes


From the Editors


Technology has enabled companies to build health-related apps that enable members to track chronic conditions, such as diabetes, in real time. While these tools bring convenience on the wrist or in the palm of the hand, they are not sufficient in isolation. To effect behavior change and long-lasting results, comprehensive care management programs, coupled with technology solutions, have a proven track record of boosting adherence and closing gaps in care.

There’s an app for that

Diabetes is a growing, expensive condition that affects 38.1 million adults aged 18 years or older, or 14.7 percent of the US adult population.1 On average, people with diagnosed diabetes have medical expenditures 2.6 times higher than would be expected without diabetes.2 Multiple vendors offer digital diabetes management solutions that aim to improve HBa1C by reminding patients to track their blood glucose and by supplementing glucometer readings with additional information, both sold directly to individuals and through employers and health plans.


Digital diabetes management solutions fall short when used alone

Peterson Health Technology Institute (PHTI), a research group that provides independent evaluations of innovative digital health technologies to improve health and lower costs, recently released their first report on digital diabetes management. The authors reviewed recent research on remote patient monitoring and behavior/lifestyle modification. While the findings indicated that these solutions delivered small incremental benefits when compared with usual care,3 the key finding was that existing digital solutions are of little value.4 The authors reported that “these tools do not deliver meaningful clinical benefits and increase health care spending relative to usual care.”3


Comprehensive, personalized care

Each member with diabetes has unique needs and requires different levels of support and engagement. Technology, including AI, can be leveraged in order to manage large data sets and provide a more personalized experience. And while innovation has improved self-management options, members with diabetes need digital, virtual, and in-person touchpoints to close gaps in care.

At CVS Health, the care ecosystem for diabetes management includes a variety of options. This multi-channel approach ensures that we meet members where they are, whether they prefer in-person interactions or the convenience of digital platforms. Interventions include face-to-face pharmacist and care team consultations and all-remote support, including email, text, and telephone. Around 85% of Americans live within five miles of a CVS Pharmacy,6 so whether a member is able to visit a pharmacy, CVS HealthHUB, or MinuteClinic location, there are options available.


One-on-one connections

Clinicians include Registered Nurses and Dietitians who have undergone specialized CDCES (Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist) training. Members can chat with clinicians via the Health Optimizer app as well as telephonically.

Our care management programs leverage digital solutions in combination with one-on-one appointments, as well as delivering appointment reminders, establishing health goals, and even setting up best next steps for people in their diabetes management journey. This type of omnichannel support meets the increasingly complex needs of people with diabetes. 


A program built for all members

Our solution stands apart in the marketplace because of its comprehensive approach that extends beyond diabetes management. We have options for payors to add comorbid hypertension as well as de-prescribing. Unlike others that may focus on specific subsets, we cater to the broader diabetes population.

With this support and effective outreach, enrolled and fully compliant members with previously uncontrolled A1C levels may experience up to 1.9 percent average A1C reduction.5 By contrast, the PHTI study showed minimal improvements (0.23–0.60 percentage point reduction in HbA1c) from the use of digital tools alone.3


80% of members with A1C >9 saw improvement in their A1C6

3.1:1 return on investment (ROI)*


Our goal is to deliver sustainable improvements in members' health trajectories by blending digital convenience with comprehensive, personalized care. With advanced data and analytic capabilities, customized communications, and a broad set of channels, it’s possible to have an overarching view of member needs and the most impactful interventions to address them. While digital tools can help members with diabetes monitor and manage their condition conveniently at their fingertips, a comprehensive care management approach is required to drive sustainable improvements in health and lower costs for plan sponsors. 


  • 1 National Diabetes Statistics Report

  • 2 New American Diabetes Association Report

  • 3 Digital Diabetes Management Solutions 

  • Neighborhood pharmacy

  • Commercial member, uncontrolled A1c (A1c >= 7.1) and has high-value diabetic care gap (if necessary can specify med opt metformin/med opt insulin gaps). Fully compliant means that the member closes all open care gaps.CVS Health Analytics, 2020. Actual results may vary depending on bene t plan design, member demographics, programs implemented by the plan and other factors. Client-speci c modeling available upon request. P1004770420

  • 6 CVS Health Analytics, 2022. Data from 2021. Actual results may vary. 1.) Two approaches were employed to derive a rate card that can tie closure of care gaps to Medical Cost Savings (MCS): (A) Estimated the value of closing a care gap statistically based on its observed impact on improving A1C and used values from medical literature to estimate how improvement in A1C translates to dollars of MCS; and (B) Used literature to estimate the value of closing care gaps that aren’t expected to directly drive improvements in A1C outcomes. Relative rates were then scaled such that the rate card times incremental gaps closed is equal to a conservative estimate of MCS for enrolled members

*For commercial clients. As part of its ongoing quality improvement activities, CVS Caremark conducted a retrospective assessment of program quality using established standards. Health outcome results, savings projections, and performance ratings are based on CVS Caremark data. Actual results may vary depending on benefit plan design, member demographics, programs implemented by the plan and other factors. Client-specific modeling available upon request.