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The Future of Diabetes Management

The Future of Diabetes Management | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
One in eleven persons has to cope with diabetes worldwide on a daily basis 

According to the latest estimates of the WHO, 422 million people suffer from diabetes worldwide – and the number is growing steadily. It means that one person in eleven has to manage the chronic condition on a daily basis, which might lead to stroke, blindness, heart attack, kidney failure or amputation. There are two types of diabetes: when the body does not produce enough insulin (type 1 diabetes) and when the organism cannot utilize the generated insulin (type 2 diabetes). While the latter can be prevented with conscious lifestyle choices, the former is a mystery to the medical community. But if someone has diabetes, that means having a constant companion.

In both cases, the treatment of the symptoms requires constant blood glucose control, which usually requires a kind of insulin intake at regular intervals, as well as blood pressure control and/or foot care. It is a truly technologically dependent condition: you need to monitor your blood glucose level, your blood pressure, your weight, follow a meal plan, test your blood every now and then. Luckily, there are so many digital health innovations for diabetes patients out there that diabetes management has been improving for years steadily – and it will significantly change in the coming years.

But technology in itself is insufficient: you need people to utilize it – and diabetes patients do. It is one of the largest and most motivated communities both online and offline, sharing their experiences on social media and other platforms. I believe one of the most amazing development is due to the diabetes community: the #wearenotwaiting movement advocated the absolutely efficient DIY artificial pancreas for so long and so successfully that the FDA approved it! Democratized healthcare at its finest!

1) Digital Contact Lenses

Although Google stopped developing its augmented reality glass, Google Glass, they did not give up on combining vision and technology. The search engine giant and Novartis signed an agreement in order to cooperate on the development of the digital contact lens patented in 2014. According to the plans, through the lens, you can get more information from the digital world plus it can measure blood glucose levels from tears as an added benefit.

Google and Novartis said the lens would contain a tiny and ultra slim microchip that would be embedded in one of its thin concave sides. Through its equally tiny antenna, it would send data about the glucose measurements from the user’s tears to his or her paired smartphone via installed software. Originally, the companies promised to put the digital contact lens around 2020 on the market, but Novartis Chief Executive Joe Jimenez in 2015 said that the contact lens would be on track to begin testing that year – and backtracked later.

Since then, there has been no news about the state of progress. However, in March 2017 Novartis Chairman Joerg Reinhardt talked down the chances of the project bringing visible results in the next couple of years, which is not very promising. [It’s] a long-term project, not something where we were expecting a breakthrough in the first couple of years. We certainly haven’t seen such a breakthrough. We don’t expect anything incredible in the next three to four years, Reinhardt said.

2) Gamification

Isn’t it more fun to make the diabetes monster happy than to boringly measure blood glucose level? There are already companies leveraging on your inner child. There are amazing applications for smartphones that can help you manage diabetes efficiently. MySugr, an Austrian company, released several applications that can add a little bit of gamification to the traditional diabetes management apps.

The company also developed the mySugr Junior App designed for kids to learn how to manage diabetes properly. It also enables parents to keep control over the therapy when they are not around the kid. The app looks like a game in which the children get points for every entry and the goal is to score a particular amount of points every single day.

3) Patient empowerment with big data

I have been quantifying my health for decades, I have even done so before the start of the wearable revolution: in an excel spreadsheet. But it’s not just l’art pour l’art data collection, I want to know everything about my organism in order to live longer and healthier in full mental, physiological and psychological capacity. So I am always happy to see inventions aiming to do the same.

Doug Kanter collected data about himself for a full year – blood sugar readings, insulin doses, meals, sporting activity etc. His company, Databetes was born out of his own experiences with diabetes. It helps patients better manage their condition by providing a good way for logging and measuring data, as well as a revolutionary concept to analyze the big data behind one person’s disease. Patients can support each other through social media channels and become coaches for each other. Look at sixuntilme.com for best practice examples.

4) Artificial pancreas

The bionic or artificial pancreas basically replicates what a healthy version of the organ does on its own, and it enables diabetes patients to live an easier life in a sustainable way. The device can measure blood glucose levels constantly and decide upon the insulin delivery itself. Engineers from Boston University have developed a bionic pancreas system that uses continuous glucose monitoring along with subcutaneous delivery of both rapid-acting insulin and glucagon as directed by a computer algorithm. However, it was not in commercial use.

As there was no single device on the medical market, which was able to monitor blood sugar and supply insulin automatically, creative persons invented a DIY version from existing technologies. Aas I mentioned above, a grass-root (social media) movement called #wearenotwaiting grew out of the initiative, who campaigned for the introduction of such artificial pancreas on the market for years persistently. One of the leading figures of the movement, Dana Lewis told me how an artificial pancreas eases everyday life. She has been using the device for almost two years by the time the US Food and Drug Administration finally approved it.

5) Food scanners

Currently, we have absolutely no idea, what we are eating – not to speak about what we should. Food scanners promised they will be able to tell how many grams of sugar a piece of fruit contains, or what the alcohol percentage of a drink is. Canadian TellSpec announced its aim is to develop a hand–held food scanner that can inform users about specific ingredients and macronutrients, but the market launch is unfortunately in delay. The Israeli company SCiO  uses a technology similar to TellSpec’s but is designed to identify the molecular content of foods, medicines, and even plants. The company says that in milliseconds the ingredients and molecular make–up of the foodstuff will appear on the user’s smartphone. However, their promises have yet to be fulfilled, as the scanner, they introduced on the market does not exactly deliver what the demo did.

The Nima gluten-sensor (already on the market!) was named one of Time Magazine’s 25 best inventions of 2015. It is a portable, nicely designed gadget, which is able to tell you from a small food sample within two minutes, whether the food on your plate contains gluten. The firm also hopes to apply its technology to detect other food allergens, including peanuts and dairy.

6) Pocket-sized gadgets

When you live with diabetes, you get used to carting around with plenty of things such as meters, test strips, lancing devices. Therefore a pocket-sized gadget combining many meters and strips can mean change in life quality. The personalized, pocket-sized, all-in-one glucose meter called Dario can offer you that comfort. Moreover, it comes with a robust real-time mobile app to manage diabetes quickly, efficiently and accurately.

For over 25 years, Medtronic has been helping people with diabetes with its complex insulin pumps. With its latest, personalized, hybrid closed-loop system it seems to get a step closer to build its own artificial pancreas. In 2016, Medtronic announced its partnership with IBM Watson. The company introduced a demo for a new app at CES 2016 that will eventually give patients detail information about the rate of insulin delivered, the constantly fluctuating glucose level and carbohydrate intake information, alongside with information from wearable trackers or calendar details.

7) Wireless blood glucose monitor

Glucose monitors usually work like this: you prick your finger, you apply the drop of blood to the glucose strip, and soon you will get the results. For someone, who requires glucose monitoring more than 3-4 times per day, it is a troublesome process.

The medical company Abbott released a FreeStyle Libre wireless monitor especially for them. It is the first of a new class of glucose monitoring devices that use “flash” technology. The user has to wear a sensor on the upper arm, which measures glucose in the body water known as “interstitial fluid”. The FreeStyle Libre is very accurate, as it can do the measurement every minute!

8) Digital tattoos

Doctors have been searching for ways how to spare patients from the pain and trouble of blood glucose monitoring for years. Beyond wireless monitors, researchers have created an electronic skin patchthat senses excess glucose in sweat and automatically administers drugs by heating up microneedles that penetrate the skin. The prototype was developed by Dae-Hyeong Kim, assistant professor at Seoul National University and researchers at MC10, the company experimenting with all kinds of microchips and biostamps that can measure numerous vital signs simultaneously.

I hope that the technology will spread around soon and it will bring the era of wireless diabetes management to every patient.

So there are more and more technologies that can help people manage diabetes properly besides potentially future therapies such as new drugs or islet cell transplantation but it’s really time to manage diabetes in a gamified and comfortable way and I believe that the best gadgets and the best technological solutions are just yet to come.

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Technology Is Leading a Healthcare Revolution

Technology Is Leading a Healthcare Revolution | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

If you’re thinking fruit, you’re way off. If you’re thinking device or computer, then you’re on the right track!

Healthcare is in a state of metamorphosis, with a full-on medical revolution unfolding before our eyes. According to global entrepreneur Peter Diamandis, this revolution is being driven by exponential technologies: artificial intelligence, sensors, robotics, 3D printing, big data, genomics and stem cells. What does this mean? Well, in the next 10 years, some mind-boggling feats of human innovation are going to completely transform the medical field. They include:

  1. Artificial intelligence-enabled autonomous health scans that provide the best diagnostics equally to the poorest people in Kenya and the wealthiest people in East Hampton.
  2. Large-scale genome sequencing that allows us to understand the root causes of cancer, heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases—and what to do about it.
  3. Robotic surgeons that carry out a perfect operation (every time) for pennies on the dollar.
  4. Growing major organs like a heart, liver, lung or kidney instead of waiting for a donor to die.

Diamandis is so committed to this revolution that he has expanded his global XPRIZE competition to the healthcare industry. His competition will encourage the brightest minds in the medical field to develop a Tricorder device that will accurately diagnose 13 health conditions and capture five real-time health vital signs, independent of a healthcare worker or facility and in a way that provides a compelling human experience. This will be made possible through talking to the device, coughing on it or doing a skin prick and the results will be more accurate than if done by a board-certified doctor!

How will this impact the way healthcare providers market themselves? Patients—who are now responsible for an expanded share of medical costs—are searching online for valuable and relevant information. Those medical providers who can quickly and effectively market, promote and publicize these innovative technologies will be that much ahead of the game than their competitors.

It’s amazing to think that the same device that will be promoting these new technologies is the same device that might one day save your life.

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Wearable Thermometer, mHealth App Predict Flu Outbreaks

Wearable Thermometer, mHealth App Predict Flu Outbreaks | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

When equipped with both a wearable thermometer and an app, healthcare experts can use mHealth monitoring to quickly predict flu outbreaks.

 

A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that a wearable thermometer integrated with an online educational tool can predict influenza outbreaks.

 

When developers from Boston Children’s Hospital integrated iThermometer with a digital app called Thermia and provided these tools to children in China, they were able to predict seasonal flu outbreaks a month before the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) of the People's Republic of China.

 

"Delays in clinically reported data and lack of data availability contribute to the challenges of identifying outbreaks rapidly," says John Brownstein, PhD, chief innovation officer at Boston Children's and director of the Computational Epidemiology Lab and the Boston Children's Innovation and Digital Health Accelerator (IDHA). “As a result, we have more and more opportunities to use real-time, low-cost digital solutions like Thermia to improve disease surveillance."

 

Officials said this was the first time that an mHealth wearable in addition to an online tool preemptively identified an outbreak.

 

Thermia receives a child's temperature reading directly through the iThermonitor, an FDA-approved, patch-like wearable thermometer that is worn under the arm. When iThermonitor detects a fever, parents can access Thermia via the web or a mobile app and answer online questions about the child's current symptoms and medical history.

 

The team analyzed 45,000 data points from China's Thermia users between 2014 and 2016. They discovered outbreaks of "influenza-like illnesses” and detected them in real-time.

 

"The fact that we were able to predict influenza outbreaks faster than China's national surveillance programs really shows the capacity for everyday, wearable digital health devices to track the spread of disease at the population level," said the study's lead author, Yulin Hswen, a research fellow at  Boston Children's Computational Epidemiology Group and a Doctoral candidate at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.

 

While the results are a promising development for mHealth and preventative care, the team believes the next step is taking this data and using it to expand usage and policy.

 

"Collectively we are still coming to terms with the data deluge from wearable devices, but it is imperative that we begin to generate value from this data," says the study's senior author, Jared Hawkins, PhD, director of informatics at IDHA. "From a public health perspective -- as we have shown with this latest study -- there is enormous potential for tapping this data for research, surveillance and influencing policy.”

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