New Advances in Diabetic Technology Help Patients and Providers

New Advances in Diabetic Technology Help Patients and Providers

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Diabetes cases are expected to grow rapidly as the U.S. deals with an aging population and more obesity/lifestyle issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control, diabetes affects 38 million people and about 40 percent are undiagnosed. As you know, once they are, they require complex medical oversight, which can be improved by better self-care and lifestyle changes. To help both you and your patients, technology can mean more information and more empowerment.

Wearable devices such as insulin pumps and glucose meters are the most common forms of diabetic technology and are continually becoming more sophisticated. Like “smart phones”, there are now “smart pumps” which can more accurately manage the complex interactions between insulin levels, blood glucose and carbohydrate intake. With easy-to-read, color touch screens, they are rechargeable and can be connected to computers via Bluetooth or USB cable to collect and track insulin usage and dosage timing. Additionally, blood glucose monitors are also offering larger touch screens, which allow for multiple lines of history to be displayed at once. There is also room to display easy-to-understand display warnings and error messages which could help ensure administration and testing accuracy.

Other technological advances go even further. Phone or tablet apps can improve compliance with food diaries and tracking of blood sugar results with the ability to share with doctors’ offices. Some are so customized to the patients; they require a prescription from your office such as BlueStar for diabetes management. In Europe, a pocket-size diabetes management system (glucose meter, lancing device, testing strips, connectivity to phone with app) is now available which also illustrates the potential for future devices. LabStyle Innovations’ Dario diabetes management system includes a blood glucose meter, compartment for test trips and an attachment for the user’s smartphone, linking the device to an app. In addition to the glucose level data, users can also log diet and exercise, search a food database, calculate insulin doses and send reports to caregivers or health care professionals.

Insulin pens are also becoming more sophisticated. NovoNordisk is introducing one which features half-unit dosing and a memory function that records the last insulin dose and the time passed since the last injection. Additionally, other wearable health devices can measure heart rate, exercise intensity and duration, blood pressure, and/or weight: all of which can help diabetic patients improve their health as well as share information with their health care professional.

Increased engagement through use of technology means improvement in glucose levels, compliance with appointments and self-monitoring. As tools continue to evolve, smarter, ease-of-use and even more customization and automation will occur. Innovative models are able to share data patterns to users, which may help them take better control of their blood glucose levels or have more informed conversations with health care professionals. The challenge for health care professionals will be to read and respond to this flood of data. If done well, the data will help you recognize potential issues and prevent potential complications.