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In the News: Personalized Digital Wellness Helping People Prevent and Manage Chronic Conditions

More than 29 million people have Type 2 diabetes, of which 8.1 million are estimated to be undiagnosed or unaware of their condition.

See the original article on WRAL TechWire here.

by Latisha Catchatoorian

Chronic disease in the United States is affecting the physical and financial health of this country.

More than 29 million people have Type 2 diabetes, of which 8.1 million are estimated to be undiagnosed or unaware of their condition. According to the CDC, people diagnosed with diabetes incur an average medical expense of $13,700 per year, which is 2.3 times higher than expenditures for people without diabetes.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for American men and women, and costs the U.S. around $219 billion each year. Other common chronic conditions include hypertension, lung disease, obesity, musculoskeletal conditions, and anxiety and depression.

While the reality of our country’s health can be overwhelming, the good news is that there are ways to manage chronic conditions, and personalized digital wellness is an approach that’s gaining momentum.

“Digital solutions and tools are changing how healthcare is delivered, and I think it’s able to amplify wellness platforms that employers are offering to supplement the current face-to-face healthcare system,” said Dr. Andrea Coviello, a practicing physician at Duke Health. “It’s expanding the way that people can receive support for chronic disease conditions. In a busy, modern lifestyle that has its constraints, digital tools can bring timely information and motivate people in their environment, which can really move the needle in creating outcomes.”

Coviello is a board-certified doctor in internal medicine, endocrinology, diabetes, metabolism and obesity medicine. Serving as an advisor, she helped develop Orthus Health’s diabetes management solution, Orthus Health for Diabetes. The tool, which is a reflection of many of its other innovations, seeks to support, empower and advise individuals with diabetes, and make its management more effective and accessible.

“Orthus Health for Diabetes is part of its singular wellness and condition management platform. The company wanted to amplify diabetes management because it’s one of the greatest hurdles for patients in terms of improving their health,” Coviello said. “For a lot of folks who have diabetes, the greatest issue is engaging at home. Physicians can treat them in an office, but outcomes are truly optimized by people changing their daily behaviors.”

Coviello said Orthus Health for Diabetes is unique from other diabetes management programs on the market because it is “device agnostic,” meaning individuals can regularly capture and share blood glucose readings from any glucose meter, including non-connected or Bluetooth devices. Additionally, through virtual health coaching, the program is meant to support lifestyle changes and medication adherence.

Orthus Health for Diabetes is also completely personalized to the individual, and patients can control how they want to be contacted and how often.

“This platform has been structured in a way that addresses people’s needs on a more individual basis and is truly personalized to an individual’s current diabetic state,” Coviello explained. “It’s based on glycemic trajectories for individuals and the level of support from our coaching staff is differentially targeted to folks according to who needs more intervention and who is doing well.”

Dr. Michael James, a cardiologist who authored a book on heart disease, recalled a particular patient he treated in the 1980s, a chronic smoker, who suffered his first heart attack.

James told his patient that if he didn’t change his lifestyle, he wouldn’t live to see his daughter get married. The patient stopped smoking, started an exercise program, and got his blood pressure under control. Knowing the importance of proactively engaging patients, James became an investor in Orthus Health because of its emphasis on not only the management of chronic disease, but the prevention of it.

“If people understand early on that something like high blood pressure can turn out to be a silent killer and they can do something about it, that’s optimal,” he said. “The problem is that I see patients in their 50s, 60s and 70s where trying to change behavior is difficult and the disease has already started. Giving people parameters and specific behavior prescriptions helps.”

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