Blog December 13, 2017

IoT Helping Patients With Diabetes

IoT in healthcare

There are five types of diabetes. Getting into the various types will require an expert in the field which I am not, so I leave that to the medical practitioners. However, it is easy to understand that all are related to each other and is about too little insulin production, insulin resistance or a combination of the two.

1 out of 11 adults has diabetes today. And the numbers are growing among all ages

According to the WHO, Globally, an estimated 415 million adults were living with diabetes in 2014 compared to 108 million in 1980. Diabetes cases have nearly doubled since 1980, rising from 4.7% to 8.5% in the adult population. And the numbers may be higher since 184 or so million have not even been diagnosed.

Statistics vary according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF)

– 425 million people have diabetes 1-2 remains undiagnosed

– By 2040, 642 million adults (1 in 10 adults) are expected to have diabetes

– 46.5% of those with diabetes have not been diagnosed

– 1 in 7 births is affected by gestational diabetes

– 542,000 children have type 1 diabetes

– 12% of global health expenditure is spent on diabetes ($673 billion)

You can see an interactive map of global diabetes statistics at the IDF website.

Regardless of the exact number, it is a gargantuan problem which continues to get worse, and our sedentary lifestyle, obesity and poor diet are not helping. Our children are spending more time in front of their devices than being active. When I was a child, our parents screamed for us to come to the house to eat. Now we as parents scream for our children to go out and do something physical.

 

How can IoT help make the lives of people with Diabetes better?

Let’s take an example of an advanced Type 2 case adult living alone at home. She is taking drugs to help the body produce insulin. In this case, the risk is a significant blood glucose level drop during the night which will kill in hours, the monitors go off, but she is already unconscious and can´t hear the alarms.

The sensors and module will automatically dial emergency personnel. Meanwhile, the module has been programmed with enough logic to gather data from the cloud backend system identifies the needed buster dose and administers a shot to save the patient.

If the patient continues to be non-responsive, the emergency staff arriving will have an access code to the person’s Keyless lock and of course all the data required for the patient’s medical history. This scenario illustrates a perfect example of the collaboration in IoT projects with companies like ASSA ABLOY who´s popular Yale Keyless Locks in combination with healthcare home services providers and others in the Eco-System, can improve and potentially save lives.

Technology is changing rapidly. Many years ago, in a company I started, we developed a cutaneous (over the skin prototype to monitor insulin, reporting the data to your mobile via Bluetooth ). Far-fetched as it seemed back then now it is a reality. Graphene patches and even Nano IoT sensors for cutaneous and subcutaneous (under the skin) monitoring are in the works.

Most commonly used for Type 1 cases are monitoring and delivery pumps which administer insulin level with a minimum amount of effort. These devices can then send data to the patient’s healthcare provider for more accurate treatment and to administer the correct dosage every time. Closed loop systems with an intelligent patch that communicates with the pump and relays data are more and more common.

Connected Smart delivery pens have been around for a little while some companies are starting to color code the dosages with interchangeable skins to make it easier for children to self-administer the treatment. There are apps with this type of technology, helping out with data gathering as well.

Summary

We need to cognizant that a healthier lifestyle will make a significant dent in the numbers. With this amount of patients, the industry is keen to capitalize on the potential spend for treatment. This is bringing forward, and will continue to bring forward, advanced technologies which little by little will make our lives even better.

Many of us have been touched by diabetes in one way or another. If not in our immediate families then we have experienced it among cousins, uncles, grandparents or family friends. And nowadays more and more children are affected.

IoT solutions will make diabetes sufferers lives at least more comfortable, and in cases save lives. A few key questions to keep in mind here.

What happens when patients travel? Does their insulin delivery module have the global sim connectivity, and security required to provide data anywhere, anytime? It’s important to consider this because a patient or the parent to a patient needs to ensure they use a model with a system with the right levels of security and robust connectivity, that can prioritize data transmission to the central system collecting patient data.

This might seem like a trivial example, but it is not. Making sure the right partner eco-system is in place backing the projects from a connectivity perspective is of paramount importance. In this particular example, it is key for the patient’s safety.

The common denominator to ensure success in these projects is once again the seamless collaboration between the various companies and healthcare providers involved. This is where the magic happens. Being a part of something that makes a difference in people´s lives is wonderful. It makes you feel a sense of pride and IoT Love.

“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is a success.” – Henry Ford