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Thought Leaders in Healthcare IT: David Weingard, CEO of Cecelia Health (Part 2)

Posted on Tuesday, Jul 30th 2019

Sramana Mitra: Can you elaborate on the business? I still don’t have a granular sense of what it is that you’re doing.

David Weingard: Every day, we get feeds electronically from a client. Those feeds of patient information come into our technology system and get distributed out to our expert clinicians across the country who will reach out to the patients who will first engage electronically and then in the way that they prefer the most.

We’re able to scale and we engage the patients over a period of time – three months to six months – to take them to a point where they’re able to take care of themselves. 

Sramana Mitra: We’re talking about counseling and process coaching.

David Weingard: Right. It’s more than that. We’ve agencies and call centers. That’s what most health plans have. They’re typically agents; not clinicians. Even if you have a clinician like a nurse, there’s a very big difference between a nurse who’s a certified diabetes educator and one who is not.

To give you an example, I had an outpatient procedure done a few months ago. The nurse looked at my insulin pump and said, “Why are you still wearing a pager?” That was a very scary moment before I went under anesthesia. It would never have happened if it was a nurse who was a diabetes educator.

There’s a completely different level of education and trust when you have specialized clinicians that we’re able to provide. Other health plans have agents and call centers.

Sramana Mitra: What is different in type two diabetes management?

David Weingard: It has different medication. A lot of the behavior modification are different. Some are type one. They must take insulin. Someone with type two will eventually start to have complications of the disease.

Getting them to really understand that and create a sense of urgency and help them start to live a healthy lifestyle is key. There’s a tsunami of type two coming down the road here in our country. One out of three have diabetes. 

Sramana Mitra: What about trends from the insurance providers vis-a-vis diabetes management? What percentage of the insurance companies are enforcing this kind of diabetes management on the patient population?

David Weingard: I will break the health plan world into three groups. There are the innovators. There are those on the fence. Then you have the laggards. We see a big change in innovation in the last five or six years. It’s completely different from when we started the company.

The top third of health plans are recognizing that diabetes is one of their largest cost problems. The middle group is mixed. The last group is trying to stay afloat. It’s bubbled up as a top priority. The Blue Cross identified this as a number two priority for them in all their chronic conditions.

Sramana Mitra: What other trends do you want to discuss in this conversation?

David Weingard: Diabetes and its co-morbidity is a huge issue for pharmaceutical companies. We built the business completely from scratch. Over the last 10 years, we have learned to innovate and deliver value that’s measurable.

Sramana Mitra: What is your forecast in terms of diabetes management? I’m not talking about your market share. I’m talking about the concept of diabetes management being widely adopted. You started off by saying that this is not happening right now.

This very small percentage of people are being managed proactively. What is your timeline on when you think this is going to get broadly deployed?

David Weingard: I just want to be clear on what I said. People are people. The larger percent of people ignore the directions given by their providers. They don’t take their medication. That’s a problem that’s not going to go away. If you look at a health plan, 18% of the members account for 40% of the cost from the diabetes population. That’s not changing.

What is changing is health plans realizing that the way they’re dealing with the patients needs to be more innovative, needs to be more scalable, and needs to have more vertical expert capability.

Sramana Mitra: Thank you for your time.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Thought Leaders in Healthcare IT: David Weingard, CEO of Cecelia Health
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