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How the Skinny Gene Project Created a National Model to Scale DPP


Sabina Loscalzo

In March of 2018, we wrote a spotlight about one of our partners, the Skinny Gene Project. Over the past few months, the Skinny Gene Project has experienced tremendous growth and success with their program and with the use of the Unite Us technology to support referrals between physicians, community partners, and the Skinny Gene Project.

This year, Medicare expanded the Diabetes Prevention Program (MDPP) after the success of the CDC’s test model. The program’s aim is to prevent individuals with pre-diabetes from developing type 2 diabetes through lifestyle modification practices such as education in long-term dietary change, increased physical activity, and behavior change strategies for weight control. The goal of increasing access to support and education around these practices is to achieve 5% weight loss resulting in positive changes in a person’s overall health, reducing the incidence of diabetes by 58% and helping manage co-morbidities.

A Scalable Model for Diabetes Prevention

Skinny Gene not only provides DPP services, such as nutrition counseling, fitness education, cooking classes, and more to address all aspects of one’s lifestyle that can contribute to type 2 diabetes, but they have also built a program that addresses the challenges around accessibility and enrollment in their program. A common challenge for DPP providers is that there is no streamlined and accountable method to create or accept referrals from community partners, physicians, and other healthcare organizations who deliver services to pre-diabetic populations.

Skinny Gene’s program works differently by including technology as one part of the solution. Physicians that are working with the Skinny Gene Project will screen patients for pre-diabetes and use Unite Us to electronically refer interested patients to the Skinny Gene Project DPP Network. Skinny Gene connects each individual with a DPP Lifestyle Coach who provides weekly support. Care is integrated with real-time feedback on an individual’s status, illuminating where they are along the process. This model not only accelerates patient participation in the program, but provides all stakeholders with shared visibility and communication to ensure pre-diabetic patients are receiving the support they need to stay healthy.

To date, Skinny Gene has leveraged the software to manage data, reporting, and program oversight on referrals from FQHCs, YMCAs, Medicare and commercial insurers in Northern and Southern California.

So What’s Next?

Recently, the Alliance Healthcare Foundation awarded two million dollars in innovation funding. One million of that was awarded to the Multicultural Health Foundation which is to be used to establish the Prevention Alliance. The Prevention Alliance will use this funding to establish and convene the first coalition of ethnic organizations to secure and share sustainable funding and infrastructure for preventative health services. More specifically, it will be used to further launch prevention programs in communities that historically have not accessed maintainable prevention services.

Skinny Gene is proudly leading these efforts in partnership with the Multicultural Health Foundation to increase access to diabetes prevention services. They have been selected because of the robust program they have developed as well as the technological infrastructure they invested in, which has resulted in increased access to diabetes prevention services in the San Diego Area.

Unite Us is proud to be part of the transformation and innovation that the Skinny Gene Project is leading in San Diego and across the country, and we look forward to continuing the fight to increase access to diabetes prevention services nationally!

For more information on the Skinny Gene Project and Unite Us please contact us here.

You can watch the video below to learn more about what makes their approach unique.

About Unite Us

Unite Us is the nation’s leading software company bringing sectors together to improve the health and well-being of communities. We drive the collaboration to identify, deliver, and pay for services that impact whole-person health. Through Unite Us’ national network and software, community-based organizations, government agencies, and healthcare organizations are all connected to better collaborate to meet the needs of the individuals in their communities.

Topics: Healthcare