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A Text a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Companies offer workers digital tools to prevent diabetes
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Two years ago, Iron Mountain, the Boston-based records storage company, discovered through medical screenings that at least 1,400 of its 8,200 U.S. employees had an elevated glucose level, a sign they were at risk for developing diabetes. To head off an increase in medical costs, the company in January began giving its workers the option of signing up for a diabetes-prevention program developed by Omada Health, a San Francisco startup whose backers include angel investor Esther Dyson and Kaiser Permanente Ventures.

Omada’s Prevent program uses input from wireless scales, pedometers, and digital food and exercise diaries to encourage people to become more active and lose weight. The company says its software can predict who will have trouble shedding pounds or sticking with the program; its motivational coaches offer them extra help. “Even as early as weeks three or four, we can pretty much tell how people are going to do,” says Omada’s medical director, Cameron Sepah. “Some people need more hand-holding.”