Diabetes is a condition with which health tech can make a massive difference, because the illness involves regular, daily monitoring and appropriate action by patients themselves. This can be a relentless chore for sufferers, but technology can make the burden much lighter.
Sanvada spoke to Yiftah Ben Aharon, CEO and Co Founder of GlucoMe, to find out more.
Sanvada: Are there a lot of high-tech options for diabetes patients to help with their condition or is it still an emerging market?
Yiftah Ben Aharon: There are numerous devices and mobile apps on the market aiming to assist patients with diabetes in managing their condition and reducing HbA1c levels (higher HbA1c levels indicate a higher risk of developing complications). Digital blood glucose monitors enable users to get digital readings of their blood glucose. Some include reminders, data logging and/or blood glucose data transfer to a mobile app so that the patient can keep track of their blood glucose tests and results over time.
Of the apps that are available, some only provide information on blood glucose tests, but others offer medical advice such as bolus calculators, carbohydrate counting, and integrated apps may offer communication with the health care team.
The market for digital diabetes solutions has been heating up pretty much in parallel with the growing awareness of mobile apps reinforcing behavioral change, such as fitness apps.
For diabetes patients, managing the condition to keep glucose levels balanced, prevent complications and live a relatively normal life relies on maintaining a healthy diet, exercise, blood glucose monitoring and, for some, administering medication. Smart monitoring devices and apps could have a very positive impact on these patient behaviors.
The challenge in this market is not only to facilitate daily monitoring, healthy eating and activity. Wide adoption of diabetes technologies and apps generate data that can be optimized to enable better and more personalized treatment of the condition with medical intervention.
Sanvada: Are diabetes patients currently getting the most out of the tech options available to them, including older patients?
YBA: Availability of new technologies for diabetes patients mostly depends on insurance plans. These plans differ from country to country, and from healthcare provider to healthcare provider.
In general, there is a huge gap between Western countries and the rest of the world. In Western countries, healthcare systems provide the best of the newest technologies and patients have a choice of devices to use those most suitable and convenient for their individual needs.
However, 75 per cent of the diabetes population are living in the developing world, where even the very basic monitoring devices are often unaffordable for patients, and where the latest technologies are mostly unavailable for those patients.
Sanvada: How does GlucoMe differ from other things available?
YBA: Many of the blood glucose monitors and mobile apps on the market today allow the patient to save and view their information. Some apps enable the patient to share that data with medical teams so that clinic visits give more reliable information for the doctor to review. However, that wealth of data is not being fully optimized by those technologies.
The GlucoMe platform takes diabetes management to the next level by closing the loop between patients, caregivers, medical professionals and payers/providers.
It combines diabetes monitoring hardware, a mobile app, and a cloud-based big data computing infrastructure.
The platform integrates reliable personalized information (from the GlucoMe monitors), shared insights and concrete treatment recommendations.
Blood glucose measurements and insulin intake are automatically recorded by the GlucoMe Smart Glucose Monitor and Insulin Pen Monitor. Data is seamlessly transferred to the patient’s smartphone, stored in the GlucoMe Mobile App, and analyzed in the cloud-based Digital Diabetes Clinic.
GlucoMe’s personalized reports, actionable insights, real-time alerts and proactive treatment approach help caregivers, medical professionals, and patients ensure compliance, improve diabetes management, reduce HbA1c levels, and impact overall quality of life.
Sanvada: Does tech like GlucoMe offer advantages to patients and health care professionals alike?
YBA: One of the major challenges that healthcare systems face nowadays is a dramatic diabetes population increase, while the number of diabetes specialists has remained flat over the last decade.
The current standard of care is based on face-to-face visits at the clinic. The patient visits a physician 3-4 times a year and an average visit lasts only 10-15 minutes. However, not all patients comply with that baseline. Only 15-25 per cent of patients visit their physicians regularly.
Since physicians do not have a patient’s entire clinical data on hand (e.g., glucose readings, insulin intake, etc.), and are handling ever growing patient panels, visit efficiency is wanting. Even when all data is available (written down manually by the patient, or downloaded from digital glucose monitors), proper analysis of the data would take longer than the entire time allotted for a visit.
Medical professionals can hardly provide efficient and personalized treatment to each and every patient due to lack of clinical information and time. They do not necessarily see the right patients and at the right time, and they are not able to provide critical ongoing support and guidance for patients between clinic visits.
GlucoMe begins by giving patients simpler to use monitoring devices. Then the GlucoMe app provides a set of user-friendly monitoring and management tools for the patient, including a snapshot of the user’s condition – a logbook of measurements, estimated HbA1c, glucose distribution and trends; data sharing with caregivers and medical professionals; and diabetes treatment plans.
Personalized and smart insights, along with guidance from medical professionals, ensure effective treatment and reinforce healthy self-care behavior.
The guidance from medical professionals is developed in the GlucoMe Digital Diabetes Clinic (DDC), a cloud-based monitoring and decision support software system. Based on machine-learning algorithms, the DDC gives healthcare professionals raw and analyzed data and clinical summaries, and enables them to communicate personal treatment plan adjustments and professional recommendations directly to individual patients.