Can Seniors Use Digital Technology to Lose Weight? Omada and Humana Say Yes!
By Adam Brown
Twitter summary: Omada’s positive Prevent trial results give hope for the future of digital prevention programs
Omada Health recently announced results from a pilot trial of its digital diabetes prevention program (Prevent) in 491 Humana Medicare Advantage beneficiaries (patients) who were all about 70 years old.
Six months after beginning the program, “graduates” (those who completed 9+ educational lessons) lost an average 8.7% of their body weight (i.e., 17 lbs for someone weighing 200 lbs) - that's great news! Additionally, more than 85% of enrolled participants were still weighing in on Omada’s wireless scale after six months.
The announcement is accompanied by a three-minute video of select participants. Though the seniors didn’t consider themselves “high tech,” they praised the technology-driven program that offers one-on-one support from a professional health coach (via phone and messaging), a private online support group of other Prevent participants, online educational courses, a cellular-enabled weight scale, and tools to help through the weight loss process.
Why are these results important?
The 8.7% weight loss in seniors is probably meaningful for overall health. If it was sustained, it would correlate to a 71% reduction in type 2 diabetes risk over three years. Of course, this data only reflects weight loss after six months – the real test is sustained weight loss over time, which is always very difficult. In its longest study, Omada Health has shown that participants on average sustain a 4.3% weight loss after two years.
This data challenges the assumption that digital health programs are for young, healthy, tech-savvy patients. It’s encouraging that 85% of participants (nearly 70 years old - not that that is all that old these days!) were still engaged after six months.
Major insurance companies are becoming more open to digital health. Humana’s forward-thinking approach is embedded in the three-minute video that accompanied the results: “Some people think seniors are averse to technology and set in their ways. But at Humana, we disagree. We asked our Medicare Advantage members at risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease to embrace both technology and change through an online program that inspire healthy habits...”
Since its founding, Omada has enrolled more than 35,000 Prevent participants and plans to be in the “hundreds of thousands” by the end of 2016. Considering that 83% of Americans over 65 now have diabetes or prediabetes, more focus on diabetes prevention in a cost-effective, scalable way is needed more than ever. –AB/AJW/KC