What employers should know about digital diabetes?

Sep 01, 2016
The growth of the diabetes epidemic is not just in older adults but is also prevalent in many younger age groups that make up the bulk of today's workforce. It is estimated that individuals with pre-diabetes or undiagnosed diabetes include 8 million workers in the US. Companies who offer a Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) can reduce health care expenses. The annual healthcare-related cost of an employee with diabetes is $13,243; whereas the annual cost of an employee without diabetes is $2,560. Local business groups are beginning to share ideas on how to reduce these costs.
How does personal health technology fit into this cost equation? While it's still early, there have been a number of programs demonstrating the effectiveness in treating diabetes. For Type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent), continuous glucose monitoring and insulin pumps are effective tools in keeping a more constant blood glucose levels, to improve quality of life and prevent or delay complications. For Type 2 diabetes, glucose monitoring can be useful as can fitness and diet apps and devices. For both Type 2 and prediabetes, coaching through diabetes prevention programs is showing effectiveness. For instance, Text2Move, which sends personalize messages about physical activity was shown to be more effective that some oral medications. Creating online social networks can help with prevention as well.
So employers should consider making digital diabetes a part of the employee wellness programs not only to reduce the bottom line but to make for happier and more productive employees. With job flexibility combined with digital tools, employees with diabetes might be less likely to be absent, quit or go on disability.