Taking on Diabetesville by reimagining healthcare

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Setting the scene

Diabetes has become a global epidemic, with the number of adults living with the disease quadrupling since 1980 and the spend on diabetes tripling in the last ten years. 

In the US, minority and underserved populations bear the greatest burden of the disease. South Texas is a pointed example of a region with such burdens, compounded further by poverty, a lack of health access, low health literacy, and a shortage of doctors. The result is what the media has dubbed ‘Diabetesville’, a community with an elevated incidence of diabetes and obesity. An estimated 28% of the population are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and nearly another one-third are at risk of developing the disease.

Unless changes are made, the rest of the US could be facing similar figures by 2050. This calls for action to alter the very foundation of the country's health system.

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“We’re breaking down barriers among traditional healthcare stakeholders and new entrants to allow better collaboration and enable solutions for diabetes.”

Vaughn Kauffman, partner, PwC US

How we helped

In South Texas, where many patients face significant barriers to obtaining quality care, PwC US is working with the University of Texas System to bring care to the consumer.

Through partnerships with retailers and community programmes, individuals can now participate in screening and prevention programmes in convenient and affordable locations. They take health status assessments on a mobile app, check their blood glucose and measure blood pressures in a retail store,  attend community-based education and lifestyle management classes.

For those at high risk of developing diabetes, or those who are afflicted with the disease, patients are empowered with technology tools such as IoT devices, wearables, and self-service kiosks, to monitor their biometrics frequently in between doctors’ visits, and supported by a care team who engages them virtually to help them better control their disease.

To connect the patient to their care team, PwC deployed the DoubleJump™ Interchange - a business collaboration platform that securely brokers cooperation among healthcare participants. The result is a consumer health ecosystem that connects clinics, pharmacies, retailers, and nonprofits, with technologies like remote monitoring tools and cognitive analytical applications that synthesise vast amounts of information to guide clinical and behavioural treatment decisions. 

PwC sits in the middle - facilitating cross-enterprise operations to enable the expanded care team to make better decisions for the patient, when and where needed.

“As professional consultants, when we take our expertise and apply it to the benefit of our entire community, that’s our future.”

Mark Mynhier, partner, PwC US

Impact

This novel care delivery approach has the potential to significantly reduce the burden of chronic disease in Texas and serve as a model to manage health spend and improve the lives of vulnerable populations across the globe. In South Texas, the programme is already demonstrating early results, including raising the health literacy of people that did not know they were at risk for chronic diseases, lowering the glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) of patients with diabetes, and reducing hospital/ER readmissions for the high utilisers.