Diabetes has long been an epidemic, but with increasing prevalence and rising cost, solving for the condition is now more pressing than ever. Patient empowerment and self-care have been deemed the keys to effective diabetes management, however gaps in education and ability exist. Developers—big and small—are buying into the self-care idea and are using digital to deliver on this vision. There are four primary pillars to diabetes management: blood glucose monitoring, diet, physical activity, and insulin delivery. Most hype has been dedicated to the revolutionary “artificial pancreas,” or closed-loop insulin delivery system, which automates insulin therapy. Yet, in most other aspects of diabetes management (e.g. physical activity and nutrition, which also apply to diabetics not dependent on insulin therapy), the patient cannot be fully taken out of the equation. Still, innovation is reshaping all four primary aspects of diabetes management, and while solutions other than the “artificial pancreas” still require human intervention, they do address some aspects of the feedback loop, ultimately equipping the patient with the education and means to self-manage their own condition. Our analysis reveals that select solutions – for example, genetics and microbiome-based food recommendation engines – hold an especially big promise, as they address multiple aspects of the feedback loop and come at a reasonable price. Readers should look to invest in high-value solutions that come at a reasonable price while approaching solutions that provide a fairly small value-to-price ratio with caution. In cases where a solution is lacking, readers should look to marry two or more existing solutions deemed complementary by the “flow of data in diabetes feedback loops” framework, which we establish by building on Lux’s IoT system data flow framework.
By: Noa Ghersin