More than 30 million Americans have diabetes, and 84 million have prediabetes. One in every seven health care dollars is spent treating diabetes and its complications. 
So Project Angel Heart is teaming up with Telligen QIN-QIO, an organization that improves the effectiveness and value of Medicare services in Colorado, on a pilot program to address diabetes throughout the state.
Telligen hosts no cost diabetes self-management classes for Medicare beneficiaries living with diabetes or pre-diabetes. The six-week program helps people age 65+ learn how to better manage blood sugar, read food labels, exercise safely, and deal with stress. (Interested in signing up? Learn more about classes starting soon in Denver and Colorado Springs.)
Now, select participants are also receiving six weeks’ worth of diabetes-friendly meals, prepared by Project Angel Heart, alongside their classes.
“Telligen sees this valuable partnership as a significant step on how we can help beneficiaries manage their diabetes. We believe it’s important to demonstrate how hearty and satisfying meals can absolutely be a part of a diabetes-friendly meal plan using readily available ingredients,” said W. Michael Boyson, state program director of Telligen QIN-QIO.
In the pilot program, Project Angel Heart provides medically tailored meals that are appropriate for people living with diabetes. Participants live throughout the state, so the meals are shipped from the Denver kitchen in a weekly delivery packed with dry ice. Meals have gone to rural areas as far as Lamar and Salida.
“Many potential health care partners ask me if Project Angel Heart provides nutrition education and counseling,” said Leslie Scotland-Stewart, the organization’s director of health care innovation. “At this time, we’re only able to do individual counseling by request. So this is an exciting opportunity for us to be able to combine medically tailored nutrition with education to enhance health outcomes.”
Data shows that both education and medically appropriate meals can be effective in improving health for people living with diabetes. The pilot program hopes that combining the two will lead to even greater benefit.
“We plan to measure how these meals may impact the clinical outcomes of Medicare beneficiaries living with prediabetes or diabetes,” said Boyson. Those outcomes, which include weight, blood pressure, and A1C level, will be compared between class participants who received meals and participants who did not. Positive outcomes may be used to request federal funding that could help grow the pilot into a larger program.
“Diabetes is one of the most costly chronic illnesses to our health care system,” said Scotland-Stewart, “and there is mounting evidence pointing toward the importance of utilizing lifestyle changes to improve outcomes. Project Angel Heart is excited to be part of leading-edge programs that are truly making a difference for people living with diabetes.”
 American Diabetes Association, “The Cost of Diabetes.” http://www.diabetes.org/advocacy/news-events/cost-of-diabetes.html