Managing Diabetes in the Workplace: Case Study on the University of Colorado

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Submission Date: May 2022

Entry Type: Case Study

State/Territory Submitted on the Behalf of: Colorado

States/Territories Involved: Colorado

Funding Source: CDC

CDC Funding:


CDC Funding (Specified):

Other CDC Funding

Grant Number:

Improving the Health of Americans through Prevention and Management of Diabetes and Heart Disease and Stroke CDC-RFA-DP18-1815

Other Funding:

State funding, NACDD funding

Domain Addressed:

Health Promotion

Public Health Issue:

The University of Colorado (CU) is one of the premier higher education systems in North America. With over 20,000 employees, it is also one of Colorado’s largest employers. CU employees serve in various roles and represent a wide range of health conditions and needs from their health plan. The CU Health Plan covers roughly 27,000 lives.

To date, CU provides the no-cost share program for diabetes supplies and medications at an estimated cost of $1 million per year. Based on U.S. averages (one in 10 of the U.S. adult population has type 2 diabetes) there were a significant number of employees and family members with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, creating a large cost on the CU Health Plan.

Project Objectives:

In 2014, CU decided it was time to engage employees with a preventative approach. The Colorado Department for Public Health and Environment introduced CU to the National DPP. CU Health Plan staff were trained about the program to increase their understanding of the member experience. Once CU Health Plan staff were trained, they worked with providers to implement the program as an effective solution to prevent plan members from developing type 2 diabetes. The goal was to save CU money when plan members no longer needed the no-cost diabetes supplies and medication program.

Program Action:

CU hosted 50 biometric screening events throughout its various locations, offered to all employees and their families, and included an A1c test. Following the biometric screenings, members received their results in the mail. If they or their family members had an A1c reading within the prediabetes range, the mailer included a flyer prompting them to enroll in the National DPP. To continue marketing the benefit of the National DPP, CU began tailored communication to its employees, working with a marketing firm to develop numerous personas that represented various employees. Communication about the program was tailored to a particular persona and sent in employee-wide emails. The CU team circulated through the different personas via email.

Data/Other Information Collected:

See below


CU’s first National DPP cohort began in 2014 in person at multiple locations. To date, CU has offered the National DPP to 2,110 members, with an average retention rate of 81% and weight loss average of 6.73 lbs., resulting in an estimated health care savings of over $16 million annually. The program has an 80% satisfaction rating.

Challenges/Lessons Learned:

A major challenge was marketing one program to the vastly different groups of employees with the CU system. The tailored communications plan creatively addressed this issue with tailored images and marketing based on a range of employee “personas.”

Another major challenge all health plan offerers and public health workers face is helping individuals understand their health risks and needs. Since 9 in 10 people with prediabetes don’t know they have it, it is difficult to get people to enroll in a DPP if they do not know they’re at risk. The free screening programs CU offered help increased individual awareness of their risk and increase enrollment in the National DPP.

Next Steps:

CU continues to offer the National DPP, periodic biometric screening, and consistent marketing to its employees and their families.

Program Areas:


State Contact Information:

University of Colorado
Health Links

Board President's Challenge:


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