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PharmaShots Interview: In Conversation with Cecelia’s CMO, Arnold Saperstein, Where he Shares Insights on Improving Outcomes for Children and Adolescents Living With Type 1 Diabetes (T1D)

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PharmaShots Interview: In Conversation with Cecelia’s CMO, Arnold Saperstein, Where he Shares Insights on Improving Outcomes for Children and Adolescents Living With Type 1 Diabetes (T1D)

PharmaShots Interview: In Conversation with Cecelia’s CMO, Arnold Saperstein, Where he Shares Insights on Improving Outcomes for Children and Adolescents Living With Type 1 Diabetes (T1D)

Shots:

  • Arnold spoke about Cecelia Health’s collaboration with the UBMD Paediatrics for a clinical study to improve health outcomes for children and adolescents living with T1D
  • Arnold also gave his views on how telehealth options can support the unmet needs of patients with T1D
  • The interview provides a gist of the challenges of living with T1D in rural communities

Smriti: How do you see this partnership with Cecelia Health as beneficial for the children diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes?  

Arnold: Yes, we’re providing children diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes (and their parents) a spectrum of support to supplement in-person physician visits with the UBMD Pediatrics team, who currently care for more than 1,000 patients in their Division of Pediatric Endocrinology/Diabetes. But more broadly speaking, this clinical study will explore how improving remote care access will enable better condition management and lead to improved outcomes—proving both the clinical and financial value of our model. A program like this could be a game-changer for rural and underserved communities.  

Smriti: Throw some light on the epidemiology of Type 1 diabetes (overall and in children) 

Arnold: Type 1 diabetes is a life-long condition that requires 24/7 management with no way to prevent it or cure it. According to the CDC, 1.6 million adults and 283,000 children under 20 have Type 1 diabetes, with an estimated 64,000 new cases diagnosed annually—about 42% of those are children. More than one-third of the U.S. adult population has prediabetes. It’s not an understatement to declare this a health crisis, especially considering coexisting health complications and comorbid conditions such as cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, and mental health concerns.  

When you factor in Type 2 diabetes, nearly 37.3 million people have diabetes in the U.S. That’s 11% of the population! Another five million Americans will be diagnosed with diabetes by 2050, primarily due to an aging, diverse population as well as longer lifespans. Combine that with a recent CDC report that COVID may increase the risk of diabetes in children under the age of 18, and the work we’re doing now maybe even more important as we look ahead.   

Smriti: What importance does telehealth hold in today’s era and how effective/ useful it can be for T1D patients or what unmet needs does it solve for T1D patients? 

Arnold: We are seeing drastic improvements in access to healthcare services because of telehealth advancements, particularly when it comes to the management of chronic illnesses like diabetes. Of course, there are still valid equity concerns with limited broadband in rural areas or access to devices that can support video visits—what some are referring to as techquity—which is why that is a component of this study. As a pioneer in virtual care, Cecelia Health has a 10-year head start in building solutions that meet the unique needs of individuals living with diabetes, at scale, through our national network of specialty providers and expert clinicians. We deploy the optimal mix of human and digital to connect with people in-between doctor visits in a way that modernizes the healthcare experience. For diabetes management, we are proven to impact behavior change to drive high patient enrollment, increased medication adherence, and impact Rx fills while reducing A1c, improving Time in Range, and closing gaps in care. 

Smriti: Tell us about the grant you received from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and its importance with respect to the initiative.  

Arnold: The generous grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust was awarded to UBMD Pediatrics, one of many initiatives to increase access and advance new research in two of their focus areas, Type 1 diabetes and rural healthcare. In fact, they have funded another clinical study with a leading diabetes specialty clinic that has chosen Cecelia Health to help improve CGM adoption among older adults with diabetes. It’s critical that institutions like Helmsley continue to support innovation in areas like diabetes if we are going to raise the bar in overall diabetes care. 

Smriti: Explain the working of telehealth support.

Arnold: Telehealth has generated a lot of buzz in the industry because of COVID-19 and the necessity to pivot to a remote care model. With lockdowns and subsequent social distancing measures, we saw a lot of medical distancing, too, where patients were unable to get or delayed screenings, tests, and follow-ups. This also resulted in a meaningful proliferation of apps and digital-only solutions that flooded the market to fill the gaps.  

However, many of those options only go so far as to apply evidence-based practices that can adequately address disease management, mental health concerns, as well as feelings of social isolation and loneliness that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. They often apply a “one-size fits all” approach that relies on standardization or calls scripts that are less effective at delivering responsive chronic care management. At Cecelia Health, our remote care visits are always performed by CDCES, RDNs, and RNs who not only have deep clinical expertise but also empathy—a key factor in building trust and uncovering barriers, fears, and concerns that have been proven to be a key differentiator in effective chronic care management. 

Smriti: Can you tell us about other diabetes programs run by UBMD?  

Arnold: At this time, we are not able to comment on other existing diabetes programs from UBMD, but we are thrilled they chose us to collaborate on this important initiative with their pediatric population. Additionally, we valued our partnership at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in which Cecelia Health served as an extension of the UBMD practice to deliver remote care management and device support to individuals at high risk for diabetes-related complications. 

Smriti: List other therapeutic areas you provide telehealth services in. 

Arnold: What makes our model special—and makes it easily extensible to other therapeutic areas—is a commitment to fostering human engagement, which is essential in achieving better outcomes independent of the disease state in question. Our team continues to expand our product offerings for chronic kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, COPD, oncology, and more. We are passionate about helping people living with complex health conditions get access to human-led clinical support, remote patient monitoring, and disease-specific education that can make all the difference in navigating diagnosis, treatment, and beyond. 

Source: Canva

About Author: 

Dr. Arnold Saperstein is the MD, FACP, Chief Medical Officer at Cecelia Health. Prior to this, he was the former CEO of MetroPlus Health with 25+ years of experience in managed care. During his tenure at MetroPlus, it ranked as one of the highest-scoring plans for quality of care. Dr. Arnold graduated from the New York University School of Medicine

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Smriti

Smriti is a Senior Editor at PharmaShots. She is curious and very passionate about recent updates and developments in the life sciences industry. She covers Biopharma, MedTech, and Digital health segments along with different reports at PharmaShots. She can be contacted at smriti@pharmashots.com.

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