Humanizing Digital Care: The Foundation of Omada’s Approach

In January 2018, I co-authored a piece titled “In-Person Care as Option B.” At the time, Dr. Thomas H. Lee and I sought to present a bold vision for health care’s future: an ecosystem of qualified digital health care providers empowered to triage patients’ care needs to get them the most accessible, effective, and personal care available. Two years later, that vision and our health care reality, have collided at a speed neither of us could have possibly predicted. What was once a call for a gradual, but fundamental, transformation of one of the country’s largest industries has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and while it’s clear that even as the worst effects of the pandemic recede, the rapid and fundamental shift towards digital care as a first option for many conditions is here to stay

As such, we have the responsibility to define what a best in class digital care experience can be. Remote monitoring, automated nudges, and telemedicine visits can all be useful tools in a provider’s arsenal, but alone they are not enough. At Omada, we’ve defined digital care as the elegantly-designed integration of relevant technology, clinical expertise, and human empathy to drive a desired, and sustainable, health outcome. Any successful digital care solution must design, and adapt, itself to the specific needs of the patient. Above all, the technology must be used in service of elevating the expertise, experience, and empathy of a real, live, human provider of care, and keep the needs of the patient at the center. 

As we hurtle towards a near future where digital care will be more prevalent than any of us imagined -- especially for the populations most vulnerable to COVID complications -- the manner in which we design and deliver these solutions is critical. For Omada, that means reinforcing our commitment to principles that have helped guide the company over the last decade. As we’ve transformed Omada from a diabetes prevention company to the most comprehensive provider of digital care services in health care, these tenets have supplied a framework to guide both our business, and our clinical operations:

Human Connection at the Center of Care

Upon entering the program, every Omada participant is matched with a personal health coach or licensed specialist. That coach or specialist stays with the individual throughout his or her entire time in the program. Why? Because that coach learns about the participant’s goals, challenges, and circumstances, then designs a uniquely tailored care plan. Empowered by our technology, these coaches -- in many cases for the first time -- have access to the information and resources needed to deliver care that produces positive, sustainable health outcomes.

Treat People, Not Diseases

A patient with multiple conditions doesn’t think of managing her diabetes separately from her anxiety, or her lower back pain. she’s on a lifelong quest to manage her health in totality. At Omada, we create our digital care experience with this humanity in mind - integrating across conditions, and ensuring consistent collaboration between experts. So when a patient enters into Omada, she can be confident that the coaches and specialists she’s come to trust are coordinating her care effectively.

Insights, Not Data

Raw data is necessary for effective digital care, but insufficient by itself. Simply feeding back that data to a participant, or “nudging” him when a reading is out of range does nothing to equip that user with the tools he needs to change behavior. True digital care involves contextualizing that data, pairing it with human expertise, and delivering actionable information and guidance that lead to better, longer-lasting outcomes. Omada’s purpose-built tools -- for our participants, and for our care delivery team -- are designed to bring an unprecedented level of insight into digital care.

Personalizing to Needs in Real Time

Omada coaches and specialists have the ability to rapidly integrate new content and resources, adjusting care plans as participant needs evolve. These can be for macro reasons -- like an unpredictable global health event -- or more personal challenges. No matter the circumstances, participants are receiving qualified care guidance from a human face they know, and trust. 

There is a reason that the term “artificial empathy” doesn’t exist. Even as we bring machine learning, remote monitoring, and other technology to bear on the health challenges of our generation, it cannot obscure the need for humanity in care. Over the next several months, we’ll be highlighting the ways Omada’s approach to digital care has transformed hundreds of thousands of lives with a human-centered blend of technology and empathy. 

First, I invite you to dive into our approach, as described by Omada’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Carolyn Bradner Jasik.