Memorandum

Cecelia Health Expands Capacity During COVID-19 Pandemic – March 27, 2020

“Over 250” Diabetes Care and Education Specialists with more hiring underway; virtual clinic including CGM initiation and insulin titration launching in June

New York-based telehealth and digital health company Cecelia Health just announced some support and capacity expansions related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In a call this morning with CEO David Weingard and Vice President of Data & Strategy Michael Balsam, Mr. Weingard shared the top issues that Cecelia users have been facing:

  • food scarcity;

  • exercising at home;

  • anxiety;

  • sick day management;

  • gaps in medication; and

  • lack of diabetes supplies.

These mirror many of the same concerns expressed by dQ&A panel members several weeks ago and we are very glad that Cecilia is doubling down on supporting patients. We look forward to learning more about how patients are navigating these issues real-time, at a population level, as conditions worsen. Notably, Mr. Weingard also highlighted an increase in patients needing injection support, as providers and pharmacists are less available to train people on injections. Mr. Weingard hit home at one major challenge for digital health companies: “When people are overwhelmed and alone, they’re not going to speak to a chatbot … They want to talk [to a person] and problem solve.”  Cecelia is well-positioned to address this need as the company already has “over 250” certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (f.k.a. CDEs) and is already hiring new coaches as it scales to meet demand. Already, Cecelia has been asked by its clients (i.e., health plans, payers) to scale up, and Mr. Weingard expressed confidence that the company was ready to meet the increasing demand.

In very exciting news, we also learned that Cecelia is planning on launching a new virtual clinic in June, which will allow Cecelia to prescribe devices and medications remotely. The virtual clinic will be “nationwide,” meaning Cecelia has, or expects to have, licensed providers in every state by June. This is similar to Verily’s virtual clinic, Onduo, which has licensed endocrinologists in 49 states. Cecelia’s clinic will be able to remotely initiate patients on CGM, help interpret data, and make medication changes.

The Helmsley Charitable Trust, Jaeb, and Cecelia already piloted a similar virtual clinic (n=36) with impressive results presented at last month’s ATTD: study participants remotely initiated on CGM (n=27 type 1s, n=7 type 2s) – including prescription, shipment and education – used the device an average 95% of the time (6.9 days/week) during the 12-week study period and saw a statistically significant -1.1% decline in A1c from 8.3% at baseline. Time in Range, estimated from A1c at baseline, also jumped from 48% to 59% (p<0.001) over the 12 weeks. According to Mr. Weingard, the demand for such a clinic from clients (and presumably the patients they cover) was already very high and with the increased pressure from COVID-19, the company is already planning to make the initial launch in June bigger than initially anticipated.

 

--by Albert Cai and Kelly Close