n4a has been named the winner of the 2012 Data Design Diabetes Challenge (@DDDiabetes) hosted by Sanofi-Aventis. n4a is a collaboration of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging and the National Minority Quality Forum with a mandate to identify people living with diabetes and avoid preventable hospitalizations.

Currently approximately 28 million individuals in the US are suffering from diabetes, a number many predict could rise as high as 35 million within the next decade.

Only 12 percent of diabetics are fully compliant with the recommended standard of care, which means 25 million diabetics are taking unnecessary chances with their health. These unnecessary risks lead diabetics to 14 million hospital encounters (inpatient and outpatient) each year.

The n4a approach to tackling poor diabetes care centers around the ideas of big data mining and a big physical infrastructure to delivery the care. n4a is identifying and tracking individuals in the early stages of diabetes, focused specifically on those who underconsume healthcare.

The National Minority Quality Forum tracks diabetics in the US using the “D-Atlas” to identify hospitalizations, cost disparities across legislative districts, etc. The search for diabetes patients will focus squarely on early stage sufferers in the most densely populated diabetic counties in the US (8,000 of 80,000). Finally, by leveraging 40 years worth of experience and national infrastructure providing social services to seniors, n4a will provide care management services to diabetics of all ages.

“The benefit of our network being involved in this is we can absolutely go to scale and they are already there,” said Courtney Baldridge of n4a in a recent interview with MedCity News.

“We think the problem is we are going after patients too late in the progression of the disease and we need to focus on core data management. About 50 percent with diabetes go to the hospital and ER every year and a lot of that is avoidable. There is a tremendous financial toll and we have really been quite unsuccessful at addressing this.”

The company’s business model is based on a fee-for-service model, with the services provided primarily to health plans and employers.

According to n4a team members, as articulated during their demo day presentation, the primary beneficiaries of the return on investment (ROI) from n4a’s services will be Medicare and Medicaid. With the total costs associated with an adverse event around $30,000, providers could save a fortune if even just a few percent of these events were to occur regularly.

n4a Diabetes Care Center from Data Design Diabetes on Vimeo.