UnitedHealth puts Dexcom CGM at center of diabetes management program

The Dexcom G5 monitor. (Image: Dexcom)

UnitedHealthcare has built a Type 2 diabetes management program around Dexcom’s devices. The initiative will provide certain UnitedHealth members with Dexcom’s continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) technology and personalized coaching to help manage their diabetes.

Minnetonka, Minnesota-based UnitedHealth is making the technology and support available to some people in its Medicare Advantage plan. Members eligible for the program will receive a Dexcom CGM device for monitoring their blood glucose levels, plus personalized coaching to help them interpret and act on the data.

The positive feedback loops enabled by such monitoring and support could enable patients to better manage their Type 2 diabetes. That, in turn, would reduce the number of diabetics that suffer complications related to their conditions.

UnitedHealth is testing the waters before fully rolling out the program, though. The current initiative is a pilot program that will enroll an undisclosed portion of the 4.3 million Medicare Advantage patients covered by UnitedHealth’s plans. 

One question is whether the program could economically scale to cover that many patients. Between the provision of the Dexcom CGM devices and personalized coaching there is the potential for the per-head costs of the scheme to exceed the financial benefits it yields.

UnitedHealth is starting out with high hopes.

“Continuous glucose monitoring can be a game changer for people enrolled in our Medicare Advantage plans, as the data can be translated into personalized information that can be acted upon in real time,” Brian Thompson, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement, said in a statement.

The deal is further evidence of healthcare companies’ interest in providing digital health devices to people enrolled in their programs. The chronic nature of diabetes and negative health and economic consequences of badly managing the disease make it a good target for these initiatives. But Express Scripts showed the broader potential of the idea last year by hooking up with Propeller Health for an asthma and COPD-focused program.