BUFFALO, N.Y. (February 22, 2021) – As part of a key priority to address the rising prevalence of type 2 diabetes in Western New York, Independent Health is partnering with Brook – a leading digital health platform for chronic disease management – to offer a CDC-recognized Diabetes Prevention Program called Brook+. This structured, year-long lifestyle change program is now available as a covered benefit with a $0 member cost share under all of Independent Health’s fully insured, commercial plans.
Through fully digital delivery and on-demand content, Brook+ provides members with the tools and personal coaching they need to adopt healthier habits and potentially cut their risk of developing diabetes in half. To participate, members must meet eligibility requirements determined by a short online assessment.
According to the “2020 National Diabetes Statistics Report” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 34 million adults are currently living with type 2 diabetes in the United States, while approximately 88 million have prediabetes. Without intervention, between 15-30% of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years.
“At Independent Health, we’re committed to finding ways to address the increasing medical and financial burdens that diabetes is having on our members, employers and overall healthcare system. Offering an innovative and engaging program like Brook+ can help us bend that curve by providing our members with the support they need to change the way they live and lower their diabetes risk,” said Michael W. Cropp, M.D., President and CEO, Independent Health. “We understand that even a small reduction in risk factors for type 2 diabetes greatly improves outcomes and lowers healthcare spend. With more than 1 in 3 people falling into the prediabetes category, we believe the potential impact Brook+ could have on our members and community is monumental.”
How Brook+ works
The Brook+ Diabetes Prevention Program is based on scientifically proven approaches and standards. Brook has successfully adapted these methods for the digital format and shown the program can obtain equal or superior health results while addressing the biggest challenge faced by in-person programs: accessibility. As a fully digital program, people are able to access the CDC-recognized curriculum anywhere, anytime.
Brook+ is designed to help participants reduce the risk of diabetes by making real lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of diabetes, such as losing 5% of their body weight and increasing their activity level to 150 minutes per week. The program can be accessed via the Brook+ app or online, with curriculum delivered via short, engaging videos and digital content that focuses on eating healthier, incorporating physical activity into their daily lives, and improving problem-solving and coping skills.
Oren Nissim, CEO of Brook, says it's the program’s easy accessibility that makes Brook+ unique from some other diabetes prevention programs.
By taking the year-long program fully digital, we eliminate the need for in-person classes, widen accessibility and improve retention while keeping participants safe during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Nissim. “Participants not only receive virtual one-on-one guidance from their personal CDC-trained health coach, but they also have the ability to connect online with a group of peers for additional support. Plus, we provide them with a Bluetooth scale and fitness tracker to help them track their progress along the way.”
The widespread impact of diabetes
Diabetes continues to be one of the country’s fastest growing and most expensive chronic diseases. Data from the American Diabetes Association shows that diabetes cost the healthcare system, insurers and employers billions of dollars each year. In 2017, the total cost of care for people with diagnosed diabetes was $327 billion, up 33% over a 5-year period. This included $237 billion in direct medical costs and $90 billion in costs related to reduced productivity and increased absenteeism.
From a local standpoint, a recently published report by the Population Health Collaborative, titled “The Economic Impact Of Poor Health On Our WNY Community,” finds that almost 11% of Buffalo-Niagara residents have diabetes. Of these, 10% have a hospitalization in a year. Overall, Buffalo-Niagara’s incremental medical costs from diabetes is $200.4 million per year, while the annual costs for productivity losses total nearly $158 million.
In order to drive down these rates and costs, Margaret Paroski, M.D., MMM, President & CEO and Chief Medical Officer, Catholic Medical Partners, says people who currently have prediabetes must take the necessary steps to prevent their condition from progressing to type 2 diabetes. Often making small lifestyle changes, like the ones that are taught and encouraged by Brook+ health coaches, can make a significant difference.
“Once a patient is identified as being prediabetic, it’s important to make an intervention early enough so that we can forestall the onset of the disease or keep the disease from developing altogether. We usually give them two choices: take a medication and/or modify your lifestyle. Thanks to Brook+, patients will be in better position to make the lifestyle changes they need to in order to lower their blood sugar and improve their health outcomes,” said Dr. Paroski. “What I really like about the program is that it focuses on what we tell patients all the time, which is to eat less and move more. It’s not just about simply reducing your intake. You also have to eat right. Exercise is vital too, particularly as we get older because maintaining muscle mass and decreasing body fat becomes more difficult. I believe those who truly engage with Brook+ can benefit from it tremendously. After all, even if you’re taking a medication, you’re not going to be able to outrun a bad lifestyle.”
As Director of Employee Benefits and Safety for People, Inc., Cheryl Stiller helps to oversee the company’s workplace wellness efforts. She understands just how impactful diabetes can be on a business and its workforce. That’s why she’s excited that Independent Health has added Brook+ as a new plan benefit.
“As part of People Inc.’s health and wellness initiative, we support programs that keep our employees healthy and active and help them increase energy levels, reduce stress, improve mental health and fight off illness. To be able to now offer a comprehensive program like Brook+ that will educate our employees on preventing type 2 diabetes, as well as creating a healthier lifestyle, is invaluable,” said Stiller. “Knowing that Brook+ is an online program, our employees will have flexibility and convenience when it comes to arranging sessions with their health coach and completing the program. That’s a huge advantage for them, especially during these times of social distancing.”
Learn more about the Brook+ Diabetes Prevention Program
In addition to Brook+, Independent Health continues to provide its members with free access to the Brook personal health companion mobile app, which can help them manage chronic diseases like diabetes as well as their overall health. For more information, visit independenthealth.com/brook.
Seattle startup Brook, Inc. is helping people own their health on their own terms. Its Personal Health Companion platform is a personalized health service that combines intelligent data collection and analysis with live, compassionate support from skilled dietitians, certified diabetes educators, and other health coaches. Brook’s tool has been embraced by healthcare plans and practitioners nationwide to help people manage their health proactively, and deliver scalable, personalized service at home. Brook was founded in 2015 by Oren Nissim and Kit Macgillivray. For more information, visit brook.health.