New mHealth projects make waves in diabetes management

From the mHealthNews archive
By Eric Wicklund

Almost every month, it seems, someone is coming up with a new mHealth device or system to help diabetics manage their health. The latest breakthroughs are coming from both sides of the Atlantic.

Biomedtrics, a Pleasanton, Calif.-based technology company, has unveiled a Bluetooth device that integrates with a wide variety of blood glucose meters and automatically transmits readings to s secure website. The ditto Glucose Data System consists of the Bluetooth device, an electronic logbook app and the website.

"One of the largest patient-generated data sets in the world is glucose monitoring, potentially hundreds of millions of data points per day," Biomedtrics CEO Robert Englert said in a press release. "Only a small fraction of this data is shared in a way that benefits the individual, their doctor, their family or the community in an efficient and meaningful way."

With diabetes affecting one of every 12 people in the United States alone and another 79 million showing signs of developing the disease, Biomedtrics is targeting one of the largest chronic condition markets in the world – and entering an mHealth arena rife with competitors and innovation. Companies like Glooko, Telcare, Welldoc and Medtronic have long led the way in developing health management tools that enable diabetics to test their blood glucose levels, store that data in the cloud and share it with clinicians and caregivers.

And that technology is producing results. A 2012 study commissioned by WellDoc, a Baltimore-based behavioral science and technology company, and published in Diabetes Care indicated patients using mobile devices to report their blood-glucose levels to physicians saw their A1c reduced by 1.5 percent on average – and if physicians used clinical decision support in conjunction with those readings, the patient's A1c level dropped an additional 30 percent on average, for a total of 1.9 percent. This was compared to a control group that, under usual care, saw a 0.7 percent average reduction in A1c levels.

Glooko, based in Palo Alto, Calif., unveiled a new version of its Glooko Diabetes Management System in June that enables diabetics and their doctors to gather, chart and share data in real time. "What we've done now is tied in the other constituents," said Rick Altinger, Glooko's CEO, in a June interview with mHealthNews.

“Diabetes is not only a growing problem, but also a disease whose management can be improved by the deployment of clinically relevant technology for patients, providers and systems,” he said. “With Glooko, we saw an opportunity to develop technology to make diabetes logging – a key component of successful disease management – easier without making the solution expensive. While there are other mobile logbooks available, most require users to enter data manually resulting in errors and missing data. Other products that allow patients to extract readings to a mobile device rely on the use of specific expensive meters with high strip costs. We are bringing robust logging and management tools to patients that allows them to use the existing meters.”

Companies like Biomedtrics and EosHealth, a Houston-based company that will soon be marketing a device that enables diabetics to communicate in real-time with a nurse, are taking the traditional platform one step further by having that data automatically transmitted to a portal. This cuts out the bothersome and often-ignored process of having the diabetic send his or her readings to a portal.

A similar system is now being tested in the United Kingdom. Cellnovo, a UK-based medical device company, has launched a 24-patient, multi-center study that makes use of its new Mobile Diabetes Management System, which features a wireless "patch-pump," mobile touchscreen controller and integrated blood glucose meter. The system replaces the traditional insulin pump with a device that measures blood glucose levels, administers insulin when needed and transmits data in real time to clinicians and other caregivers.

This study follows one conducted on 12 patients in Wales and Germany by the Diabetes Research Group at the University of Swansea and the Institute for Diabetes Technology at Ulm University. In both locations, the test subjects stayed on-site for four days, then went home and used the system for seven days.

"The trial results are extremely encouraging," said Professor Stephen Bain of Swansea University, the UK's principal investigator, in a press release. "The Cellnovo insulin patch pump demonstrated its convenience and ease of use for people with type 1 diabetes who were using other commercially available pumps. Furthermore, the Cellnovo System provides real-time availability of key clinical data for the patient and the healthcare professional. This opens whole new possibilities for improved management of diabetes.”

"We were extremely pleased by these initial results and are rapidly moving toward commercialization, by more fully evaluating ease of use and accessibility with a larger group of patients," added Eric A. Beard, Cellnovo's executive chairman, in the release.  "The system is demonstrating reliability and efficacy, coupled with all the benefits of real-time information and we look forward to reporting on this larger study at the end of the year."