ADA news roundup: Medtronic, IBM Watson, Glooko, and WellDoc

By Jonah Comstock
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A number of pieces of interesting health tech news came out of the 76th Annual Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association, held this weekend in New Orleans. Here’s a roundup of the highlights.

Updated 6/15/2016 to include some more news items.

IBM’s Medtronic partnership gets a name. Information has been trickling out about Medtronic’s collaboration with IBM Watson Health that was first announced in April 2015. In January, IBM revealed that the Medtronic and IBM teams have been working on using Watson’s cognitive computing alongside data from Medtronic’s Carelink Connect system to predict hypo- and hyperglycemic events and give people with diabetes coaching and guidance to avoid those events. In a research study, the companies say they were able to predict a hypoglycemic event three hours in advance, 80 percent of the time. They said this summer was the hoped for launch date. Now it is summer, and the joint product officially has a name: SugarWise. No new word on the launch date.

HelpAround taps Watson API. “Sharing economy” diabetes app HelpAround, the flagship product of Israeli startup HelpAround, which connects local people with diabetes to share emotional support and test strips, will use Watson’s API to help analyze patients’ questions and requests in realtime. According to IBM, Watson will “analyze every help request in real-time, assess its sentiment and tone, and identify frustrations, dissatisfaction and expressions of urgency.”

Glooko launches Glooko Advise. Diabetes management platform Glooko announced two new products set to launch in July 2016 and later in 2016. The first, Glooko Personal Advisor, will be a patient-facing software platform that helps a person with diabetes make sense of retrospective blood glucose data and use it to make better future decisions. The second, Glooko Clinical Advisor, will be a physician-facing clinical decision support tool that enables, among other things, mobile insulin dosing and insulin pump settings adjustments via an integration with DreaMed. Separately, Glooko also announced compatibility with Medtronic MiniMed insulin pumps and sensors.

WellDoc releases study data. WellDoc shared results from a real-world study to evaluate the feasibility and reach of using a lay coach in conjunction with its BlueStar mobile prescription therapy. While the number of study participants was not disclosed, 70 percent of study participants stayed actively engaged in the program and 78 percent sent their BlueStar reports to their care team. Participants used BlueStar an average of 6.5 times per week and had, on average, seven coaching contacts during the 6-month study.  “Preliminary analyses indicated additional benefits in improved blood glucose control,” the company said in a statement. “Regardless of how long they were living with diabetes, study participants stated in the qualitative evaluation that the program was useful and that they would highly recommend the program to a family member or friends.”

Canary Health partners with Medtronic. Los Angeles-based Canary Health, a startup that uses digital health tools to help populations prevent and manage chronic diseases, has also partnered with Medtronic. Under the agreement, Medtronic will resell and distribute Canary Health's full suite of chronic disease self-management programs, including its Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). Canary Health and Medtronic will also work together to develop new technologies that combine Medtronic's hardware and software offerings with Canary Health's software and service platforms.

Nutrino partners with Medtronic. Nutrition app Nutrino also announced a partnership with Medtronic at ADA. People who use both Nutrino's app and Medtronic's MiniMed Connect system to connect their CGM and insulin pump to their smartphones will be able to pull data from Medtronic devices into Nutrino and put that data in context with their food data. "By working with Nutrino, we can have a real impact on the food decisions people with diabetes face every single day," Annette Brüls, president of Global Diabetes Service and Solutions at Medtronic Diabetes said in a statement. "With this new service, we will not only enhance our customers' day-to-day lives but will also help us collect insights to inform how we approach diabetes management in the future as we work to transform care to drive greater freedom and better health. In addition, the Nutrino diabetes-specific, validated food database and carb counting support will be available in Medtronic's digital offerings."