The availability and performance of AWS enables us to build a highly engaging experience that drives better health outcomes.
Adam Brickman Senior Director of Strategic Communications and Public Policy, Omada Health

Omada Health's headquarters. 

More than 84 million people in the United States have prediabetes, an obesity-related condition that puts them at high risk for developing full-blown Type 2 diabetes, as well as heart disease and other health problems.

To address this issue, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). Combining education, counseling, and diet and weight management, DPP has proven to improve health outcomes. DPP was initially delivered through weekly, in-person weigh-ins and education meetings. But that made it hard to reach all the people who could potentially benefit from it.

“We saw an opportunity to lower barriers to access and make the program continuously available to participants,” says Adam Brickman, senior director of strategic communications and public policy at Omada Health.

Omada Health decided to create a digital version of DPP, enabling it to serve more people at lower cost, adapt the program to individual needs, and use data to continuously improve results. With an online intervention, participants could engage when and where they needed to—even if there was no DPP program in their area. It was the first digital DPP offering to be recognized by the CDC.

The platform provides participants with many ways to connect. A cellular-connected scale records weight. A mobile and web application enables them to track exercise and meals and to engage with their personal coach, weekly classes, and fellow participants.

Omada Health’s digital DPP has been demonstrated in nine peer-reviewed studies to help people achieve and maintain clinically significant weight loss over three years. For example, within 12 months, the average Omada Health participant lowers his or her five-year risk for Type 2 diabetes by 30 percent. The company predicts its program will deliver an average net savings of more than $2,000 per participant for health plans and employers. Its customers include Lowe’s, Costco, Cigna, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Providence Health and Services, and Intermountain Healthcare. The program is so effective that the company offers outcome-based pricing related to how much weight people lose. Omada Health’s DPP solution reaches more than 120,000 participants nationally and is growing rapidly.

Omada Health chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) as the platform for all its production applications. It uses Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) for compute services, Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) to host MySQL and PostgreSQL databases, Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) for data storage, and Amazon CloudWatch for monitoring and alerting. The company’s data science team is using Amazon Redshift for big-data analytics and AWS Elastic Beanstalk for hosting APIs.

William Dougherty, vice president of IT and security at Omada Health, was previously chief technology officer at a large collocation company. He knows from experience that AWS offers significant benefits over the collocation model for fast-growing companies. “Using AWS enables us to scale and adopt new technologies faster than if we were managing our own infrastructure,” he says. “AWS is also cost-effective, so we can make good use of our cash with no huge capital outlays or multi-year collocation contracts. And AWS empowers our developers to spin instances up or down instantly so they can rapidly develop new features.”

Omada Health’s data-science team takes advantage of the dynamic scalability of Amazon EC2 to move data quickly from production to reporting instances and to process vast amounts of data. “The powerful compute platform and big-data capabilities of AWS help us build tools that engage users at the right time to have a positive impact on outcomes,” says Brickman. “As the system gets smarter, it can prompt coaches to engage with participants at critical moments that drive positive outcomes, such as when participants weigh in less frequently than they have in the past.”

“Using AWS makes it easy to rapidly experiment,” says Dougherty. “For example, we can test which types of imagery are most effective at getting people to use the recipes we provide, and whether recipe adherence has a meaningful impact on weight loss.”

As a healthcare services provider, Omada Health is subject to stringent regulations, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Using AWS has helped it achieve certification under the Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST) Common Security Framework. HITRUST is a not-for-profit organization that works with healthcare technology, privacy, and information security leaders to develop information security standards for healthcare. “We rely on the security and availability of AWS to build a HIPAA-compliant service that participants and customers can trust,” says Dougherty. “It’s one reason we are the only digital DPP provider in the country to be HITRUST-certified.” The company also replicates data across multiple AWS Availability Zones to achieve business continuity and disaster recovery.

Security is critical for Omada Health customers. “We have to go through a major evaluation process, including onsite audits,” says Dougherty. “When we tell customers we use AWS and share its SOC type I, II, and III certifications, it elevates the conversation to how Omada Health adds value through security best practices.”

Availability and performance are also fundamental to participant experiences. “People who drop out don’t get better,” says Brickman. “The solution has to be working at the moment they need it, whether that’s stepping on a scale at 2:00 a.m. or accessing a meal plan while they’re on a business trip. If it’s not, they can get distracted and discouraged. The availability and performance of AWS enables us to build a highly engaging experience that drives better health outcomes.”