How technology changes diabetes managment
Diabetes is like an unwanted life partner.
Circumstances lead to us having to spend our entire life with him. He’s hard to love, but we need to find a way to live with him.
Luckily, technology advancements can help us with that.
More and more applications and devices are here to help us live more healthy and longer. The question is, do we really believe in the saying „health is the most important thing“, or we just use it for small talk with people?
In this post, we will present you applications and promising technologies that can make life easier for diabetic patients.
Technology is going one step ahead, and we go two steps backwards?
Although we use technology for everything, we are sceptic about the idea of using it for our ailments.
To illustrate this, we’ll use data from an american company „HealthMine“ which did a research on a 500 patient basis. These patients were included in the U.S. health program 2016., and they use smartphones or some other device connected to a health application.
There were 59% of them suffering from some chronic disease, 12% diabetic patients, but what worries the most is the fact that only 7% of them uses their device for tracking and managing their disease. Another interesting finding is that 50% of them uses their devices for tracking the number of steps they make or fitness applications.
Furthermore, in the table beneath, you can see which were their most used applications:
For sure, our awareness and habits need to change, or else we will have a big gap. We will have a technologically advanced society, but a bad healthcare system and a bad life quality.
Technology helps – OK, but how?
Nowadays, we have a lot of technological devices for tracking blood sugar level, therapy management tools, and all the other tools that help patients dealing with their diseases.
Also, many of these devices are very useful for prevention, especially for those people who have a genetic predisposition to become a diabetic patient as a part of their genome.
The health application and device market is estimated to be worth several million dollars, and every bigger technological and medical company has a strategy to win a larger share of the market.
Devices vary by complexity, from the simplest such as digital scales for diabetic patients that also serve for feet inspection, all the way to sophisticated sensors and software.
Since 2001, Glooko offers a better way for diabetic patients to track and review data collected by their glucometers. It allows them to transfer that data to their smartphones.
Glooko is essentially a digital diary for tracking blood sugar level.
What differs Glooko from other similar applications is the fact that it supports almost all glucometer models, so every glucometer can be connected to smartphones via Glooko cable.
Once the patient transfers his data to their smartphone, he can easily send them to a doctor. This makes it easier for the doctor to comprehend the state in which his patient is.
Glooko offers diabetic patients tools (software) for managing food and insulin intake, and other therapies.
This application is similar to Glooko. Besides blood sugar level control and analysis, it also offers a social component in a way that enables users to easily share their data and experience with other patients.
CGM or Continuous Glucose Monitoring is a system of measuring the level of sugar in blood by using a tiny electrode, i.e. a sensor built in beneath patient’s skin.
The electrode is connected to a transmitter that sends those information via wireless, or over radio frequencies, to a tracking device, and eventually the data is seen on the screen.
These devices make blood sugar level tracking easy and continuous, and there are many models, from various manufacturers, currently on the market. It’s important to say that in the USA, where they are already in use, patients need to have a doctors note for in order to use the CGM device.
Also, these devices cannot completely replace the „sticks“ for measuring blood sugar level, and it is advised that users calibrate their CGM devices using the „sticks“ once in every 12 hours.
Finally, we present you one the most significant and exciting innovations. Google is getting more active in health sector, and besides working on the ultimate platform for robotic surgery, are adamant to make diabetic patient’s lives easier.
Their „winner“ for this race is „Smart contact lens project“.
The idea is to make contact lens to measure sugar level in tears using a tiny wireless chip and a miniature glucose sensor, embedded between two soft layers of lens material.
Google engineers test the possibility of installing a tiny LED light. The LED lights would light up every time the sugar level is above or beneath the normal value. This way, patients would be automatically notified when something is wrong.
Of course, we need to say that this project is still in development, and Google is currently working on acquiring approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Google chose the pharmaceutical company Novartis’ Alcon as their partner for development and easier distribution. They said their goal is to make smart lenses available by 2019.
Until we can find a way to prevent diseases, all we can do is to fight them once they occur.
I know managing a disease using applications isn’t as entertaining as chatting your friends over Facebook.
Sometimes technology doesn’t have to be fun. Technology for more effective tracking of diabetes will never be as fun as Facebook or Instagram, but it will make our lives easier and prevent the negative effects of this disease.