MetroPlus Members with Diabetes Now Have Access to Peer-to-Peer Telehealth Mentoring
Originally published on NYC Health+Hospitals
Peer mentoring has shown to improve care and health outcome
MetroPlus Health Plan today announced a new partnership with InquisitHealth to provide peer-to-peer mentoring to members with poorly-controlled diabetes, defined as having a recent HbA1c reading above 9 percent, which is determined through a common blood test that is used to diagnose diabetes and to monitor how well a person is managing their condition. The new pilot program pairs MetroPlus members who have diabetes with trained peer mentors who are successfully managing their diabetes. The program utilizes a technology-enabled workforce of “peer mentors” to address the social and behavioral factors that may impact a patient’s health. The mentor/mentee relationship enables members to work closely with others who serve as trusted advisors and coaches to guide members towards better health.
Reflecting the health plan’s ongoing commitment to using proven interventions to work, this initiative is designed to efficiently and cost-effectively improve participating members’ overall health and wellness. The peer-to-peer initiative is part of a larger effort by MetroPlus to promote self-management of diabetic symptoms before serious complications occur. This mentoring program utilizes a key component of the comprehensive, primary care-centered diabetes management program recently launched by NYC Health + Hospitals in July to improve care for tens of thousands of New Yorkers.
“This program significantly expands our reach and helps us better engage with our most vulnerable patient populations,” said Sanjiv S. Shah, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at MetroPlus. “Most importantly, these peer mentors are helping to identify and escalate critical issues to our nurses, social workers, case managers, and providers while fostering knowledge, self-management skills and self-esteem among our members with poorly controlled diabetes.”
“Many hospital systems have begun to roll out new programs that leverage community health workers (CHWs) to facilitate general care coordination mostly through in-person engagement,” said Ashwin Patel, M.D. Ph.D., Co-Founder and CEO of InquisitHealth. “We are leveraging the best of the CHW model through a robust digital platform while allowing flexible One-on-One communication with ‘someone-like-you’ to create shared empathy and a strong connection. We’re excited to provide this flexible approach of peer-to-peer mentoring for MetroPlus members to improve their diabetes health.”
Peer mentors are living with well-controlled diabetes and are trained to help others. They are matched with MetroPlus members based on several factors, including shared clinical and cultural attributes. Peer mentors work with members one-on-one, via phone and smartphone, to identify and address barriers to controlling diabetes and building healthier lifestyles. Each mentor and member work on the member’s challenges, including improving medication adherence, filling in knowledge gaps (especially related to diet), and setting goals to develop sustainable behavior change.
“What is unique about this program is that the peer mentors have similar experiences to those of the members we’ve enrolled. They live in the same neighborhoods, eat the same foods, and live with the challenge of managing diabetes every day,” said Eleanor Sorrentino, R.N., Senior Director of Quality Management at MetroPlus. “We are pleased to partner with InquisitHealth to help our members take control of their A1c numbers and their health.”
“I joined the peer-to-peer program because having an autistic daughter led me to neglect myself. I did not realize how sick I was until I blacked out and woke up in the ICU and the nurse told me that my blood sugar was 200+. Then, I realized that I was that sick and close to death. So, I said to myself, I have to take care of me so that I can take care of her. I began to find out about what diabetes is and how it affects you. I didn’t know that there was help out there. I learned everything on my own. Now, I have gotten my A1c down from 12 to a 5, lost weight, and changed my eating habits,” said MetroPlus program mentor, Veronica Campbell-Black, “I jumped at the opportunity to become a mentor because I know I can help someone by sharing my experiences with them.”
“Ms. Veronica calls every 2 weeks. She gives me suggestions that could be good for me. She tells me about walking, she tells me about taking my medications, and now I am eating well,” said MetroPlus member and program mentee, Jewel. “As part of this program, you get to meet people and you get to understand that there are many, many more people who are experiencing difficulty with their blood sugar.”
There are nearly 17,500 MetroPlus members with diabetes. Approximately 987,000 New Yorkers have diabetes and 19 percent among them don’t know they have it. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to heart disease, blindness, end-stage renal disease – which may require dialysis – and lower extremity amputations in adults.