Professor Pratik Choudhary
Professor of Diabetes, University of Leicester and Chair, Diabetes Technology Network – UK
Connected devices measuring glucose, activity and insulin delivery have changed interactions between people with diabetes and health care professionals.
It’s 100 years since the discovery of insulin converted type 1 diabetes from a death sentence into a condition that people can live with. However, living with type 1 diabetes can be a relentless job, having to work out how food, activity stress levels affect glucose levels and adjusting insulin doses multiple times a day.
The roll out of innovative technology, such as flash glucose monitors, has banished finger-pricks to the history books for many people and halved the number of admissions to hospital for very high and very low glucose levels.
New tech like closed loop systems work like “cruise-control” and use sensors to measure glucose continuously and adjust the amount of insulin given in real-time to keep blood glucose levels in a healthy range. These technologies are the closest thing to a cure that we have at present, using the power of data to help people with diabetes live as close to a normal life as possible.
The connected world
The COVID-19 pandemic has really transformed the way we as doctors connect with our patients. We are now connecting with our patients virtually, using telephone and video clinics. We have worked out how to do complex interventions, like starting insulin pumps remotely, something we would not have thought of doing before the pandemic.
These technologies are the closest thing to a cure that we have at present, using the power of data to help people with diabetes live as close to a normal life as possible.
Through these virtual clinics, we have been able to connect with patients who sometimes were not able to come to hospital and allow patients to have their appointment from their workplace or home. At the same time, by using data uploaded into the cloud from these connected devices, we can review and support more people remotely and target our resources to those who need them the most.
The power of data
The real value of this digital transformation is the power of data. These connected devices continually upload data into the cloud. This data can be used to support people with advice in real-time, providing advice needed in real time to people with diabetes and reducing the need for regular time-consuming follow ups. Ultimately, until we find a cure, these technological solutions will go a huge way in enabling people with diabetes to live their lives as they want to.