Diabetes Prevention Programs, which seek to improve health and wellness for people at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, are using telehealth to improve access and facilitate better outcomes.

When introducing telehealth to a DPP program, it’s important that the connected health technology stay in the background, says Karl Ronn, managing director of Health2047, a California-based business formation and commercialization enterprise launched by the American Medical Association that recently spun out a chronic care company based on the national DPP model.

Ronn says the focus of a DPP program is on lifestyle change, which requires constant and personal support. Any digital messaging has to be reinforced by personal coaching, so that the messages aren’t read and then ignored. “This isn’t healthcare,” he says. “It’s personal care. And it’s not a pill or a device. It’s a behavior change. You’re working on something that you will be doing for the rest of your life.”

To Ronn, the benefits of connected care technology in a DPP program are very specific. It can be used to match patients with coaches, it can be used to give coaches an online platform to reach more patients (and to reduce the burdens of travel), and it can be used to gather data at home for coaching support. But it can’t replace the coach. “Technology can be used to reinforce the coach,” he says. “It can be used to build on those relationships and to reinforce habits.”