Beyond The Pill: Using An Interconnected Diabetes Management Solution To Improve The Lives of People With Diabetes

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FEBRUARY 10, 2020

Ascensia

What is the impact of diabetes?

According to figures from the American Diabetes Association, diabetes affects over 30 million Americans, with this number growing by 1.5 million each year as socioeconomic and lifestyle factors put ever more people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It’s estimated that the total cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2018 in the US was $327 billion, rising by 26% between 2012 and 2017.1

No two cases of type 2 diabetes are the same and treatment options are varied, so the need for personalized, tailored support is becoming increasingly important. However, with healthcare systems ever more stretched and the time that physicians can spend with each person with diabetes limited, personalized management is hard to achieve through traditional methods.  
 

How is technology changing the way diabetes is treated?

Exciting advances in digital technology are creating new opportunities to improve the management of diabetes, by enabling companies to develop the latest tools designed to address challenges faced by people with diabetes (PWDs). As this technology becomes more advanced, more people are choosing to use digital solutions to help manage their diabetes. A report published in 2018 forecast that the number of people worldwide actively using diabetes apps would reach 23.5 million by 2022, up from 6.1 million in 2017, and the number of people using digital coaching for diabetes would increase from 240,000 in 2017 to 3.8 million by 2022.2
 

How is Ascensia embracing technology to improve diabetes management?

For more than 70 years Ascensia has been at the forefront of diabetes technology development and our innovations have been pivotal in helping PWDs manage their condition. As one of their latest advances, Ascensia is now developing a novel Interconnected Diabetes Management (IDM) solution for people with type 2 diabetes which uses connected devices, apps, and the many data points that a person generates, to provide a tailored service to help manage their diabetes with personalized insights.

This particular IDM solution from Ascensia combines remote behavioural coaching and a mobile application to provide guidance to PWDs. The app collects, stores, and analyzes key data about a person’s health from a variety of connected devices, such as blood glucose meters and activity trackers, which are helping to create an effective and more holistic digital solution for type 2 diabetes.

Initial clinical evidence suggests that this IDM solution can be effective in improving glycaemic control. A study by Ascensia Diabetes Care, presented at the American Diabetes Association’s 79th Scientific Sessions in June 2019, found that the use of this IDM solution was associated with a significant decrease in HbA1c levels of 0.43% in people with type 2 diabetes over 12 weeks. These improvements were independent of any changes to diabetes medication, suggesting that the solution could lead to better glycemic control through improved self-care.3 This is one of the first studies to show clinically meaningful results from the use of an IDM solution and demonstrates how the solution has the potential to improve the management of type 2 diabetes.

The IDM app provides simple recommendations based on the analysis of patient data, while regular interactions with Certified Diabetes Educators (CDEs) who act as Guides, can provide themore specific coaching for people to make positive behavioral changes in areas such as glucose monitoring, food choices, activity levels, stress, and sleep. The factors affecting diabetes management outcomes are broad, and Ascensia’s study assessed 25 impactful behaviours which could be addressed by its investigational IDM solution.
 

How does the IDM have a positive impact?

Ascensia’s IDM solution focuses on treatment beyond the pill, providing people with much-needed guidance and a simplified, holistic self-management tool. It aims to use digital solutions to bring together all aspects of diabetes management which can often be acting in silos. Only by having payers, healthcare professionals (HCPs) and the person with diabetes working together will we be able to deliver the truly joined-up approach to diabetes that PWDs need. We are not there yet, but this should be the aspiration of future diabetes management.

By educating users remotely and providing tools to track progress, PWDs are supported with their day-to-day self-management, which is thought to reduce payer costs and the burden on healthcare systems. At any stage of the diabetes journey, support to make behavioural changes, better understanding of diabetes and optimised monitoring can help PWDs enjoy a healthier life. It can help to improve outcomes and studies such as Ascensia’s IDM study show that it can lead to better managed diabetes.

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The call for a comprehensive ecosystem

In order to positively impact people’s health, digital solutions need to be implemented as part of a comprehensive ecosystem, one that considers all factors which may affect a person’s experience with diabetes, from medication, to diet, to mental health, and then provides tailored guidance for that individual. It is no longer enough to simply offer a patient a drug and glucose monitoring device. We need to provide holistic solutions that consider each aspect of diabetes management in order to have the best chance to improve patient outcomes.


What next?

Although progress has been made, digitization of diabetes management is just beginning. Digital solutions are already proving to be beneficial, with many people with diabetes using apps to help manage some aspect their diabetes. To improve this further, we will need to more seamlessly integrate digital health solutions into every-day diabetes care and provide more holistic systems.

Ascensia’s IDM solution is showing great promise in pilots and will be available to PWDs very soon. By taking a more holistic approach to digital management in type 2 diabetes, Ascensia’s new digital solution hopes to reduce the impact of diabetes on society and healthcare systems, and improve the lives of PWDs everywhere.

References:
1 https://www.diabetes.org/resources/statistics/statistics-about-diabetes - accessed 20 December 2019
2 Digital Diabetes Care Market 2018-2022. Research2Guidance (September 2018)
3 Klaff, L. et al.  Poster presented at the American Diabetes Association’s 79th Scientific Sessions, San Francisco, California, USA, 2019

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