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Health Coach Spotlight: How Digital Technologies Are Helping Patients Overcome Barriers

Omada health coach Danene Moberly (DJ) has extensive knowledge of Type 2 diabetes management and patient care. As a registered dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), DJ has worked with a variety of patient populations ranging from underserved communities to youth and adults. She’s seen firsthand how technology has evolved in the healthcare industry, specifically with Type 2 diabetes management.

DJ was most recently featured in STAT News, highlighting the imperative role our coaches play in our program. Earlier this month, DJ was featured in Endocrine Today where she shares her perspective on our latest partnership with Abbott’s world-leading Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM). We sat down with DJ to hear how personalized, human-centered coaching makes a dramatic impact when coupled with Omada's digital health tools.

CoachSpotlight_DJ_Blog1_111819Q: What specific challenges or hurdles do Type 2 diabetes patients face?

One of the greatest hurdles patients living with Type 2 diabetes often experience is accessing healthcare providers outside of their scheduled visits. Depending on the condition, doctors appointments can be few and far between, but the need for continuous support remains. This system creates gaps in care. 

Omada meets this challenge by providing connected care and support for Type 2 diabetes patients whenever they need it. Every participant is paired with a coach who is a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), like myself. We’re trained in diabetes management and interpretation of blood glucose data and proactively engage with our participants. 

One thing that really sets Omada apart from other Type 2 diabetes programs is that our coaches take a proactive approach instead of a reactive approach where coaches are on standby. I often find our participants feel they are spread too thin and the responsibilities with work, family and friends can weigh them down and impede on their health goals. That’s why us coaches at Omada work to always be available, especially in these times of stress. 

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Q: How can personal coaching help Type 2 diabetes patients overcome these barriers?

As coaches, we are helping our participants create healthy patterns for life. We understand that every individual has different challenges, and having a personal coach allows for the opportunity to gain a clear picture of the unique needs and challenges someone is facing. Omada’s proprietary coaching platform gives us unprecedented levels of insight into our participants’ behaviors, and converts data collected into actionable information that we can use to provide better care. Our homegrown coaching platform empowers our coaches to focus on the most human elements of care.

For example, we have many participants who look forward to summer because it provides more opportunities to socialize. However, this can bring an added layer of stress and anxiety because they're put in food environments -- like picnics and barbeques -- that can derail their efforts to stick to a healthy diet. As coaches, we stay ahead of these scenarios by preparing an actionable and do-able plan for our participants. We give our participants a "concierge support system" to make healthy choices and overcome any challenges and hurdles associated with Type 2 diabetes management. With this additional support and empathy, our patients can overcome health challenges, whether big or small, that pop up in their day-to-day activities.

Q: Can you describe why digital health tools are particularly helpful when it comes to Type 2 diabetes?

Of course, digital tools are helpful, but digital health tools alone won’t do the trick - at least not long term. What differentiates Omada's platform is the use of digital health tools combined with the human-centered coaching. As coaches, we curate a personalized experience based on a participants care plan (including medications and complications) and unique health goals. With the aid of digitals tools, we can build deep, trusting, and personal relationships with a patient to ensure they have support and familiarity surrounding their health journey. 

There is of course, also the convenience aspect of digital health. But unlike other digital platforms that use an automated nudge or AI-driven message to engage participants in their health goals – with Type 2 diabetes, that’s not going to do the trick. I can say that as a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, the human element of digital health is key. As digital health coaches, we're able to tailor the goals and needs of a patient to their specific behaviors. This is important to their growth and success, and ours. Having a program that can adapt and allow participants to identify what they find most helpful as well as what they want to incorporate into their daily routine makes a big difference in success.

Q: What are three health tips that Type 2 diabetes patients, and everyone could benefit from?

  1. Value your sleep! People often put sleep to the wayside, and it's one of the most important aspects of health. Many people don't understand the power sleep can provide when recovering from an illness, or staying ahead of illness and keeping healthy.
  2. Practice finding gratitude in daily challenges. Fitting gratitude into your life amid the daily challenges we face may feel like a drain of energy. When someone is in the middle of a challenge; however, it's hard to recognize that this could result in a positive outcome -- making the participant stronger and healthier in the long run. Take the time to acknowledge a challenging situation and be grateful it's provided you with the experience to learn and grow.
  3. Be as kind to yourself as you are hard on yourself. The right thing to do is almost always the hardest thing to do, and often this puts us in a difficult position. However, we need to look at ourselves, our situations, how we act, and how we make decisions and show ourselves, tough love. While understanding life presents difficult obstacles, and we are only human.