Sanofi 2012 Data Design Diabetes Innovation Challenge

The deadline for submissions to the 2012 Data Design Diabetes Innovation Challenge is March 23rd.

This is an opportunity for innovative new designs and uses of data in diabetes to get mentorship and funding while driving towards a final product.  The winner will ultimately be awarded $100,000 to help develop their idea.

The criteria that will be used to judge a winner are:

  • Ability to improve the outcomes and/or experience of people living with diabetes in the US.
  • Ability to improve the quality and effectiveness of diabetes care in the US.
  • Ability to improve the delivery of diabetes care in order to provide the most appropriate intervention at the right time.
  • Ability to reduce the cost of care without compromising the quality and delivery of care.
  • Enable people within the diabetes ecosystem to feel in control.
  • Reflect an understanding of how diabetes affects families, not just individuals.
  • Support a desire of the diabetes ecosystem to live in a state of overall wellness, and not just symptom mitigation.

These criteria are all important aims, and it will be exciting to see what new ideas come out of this competition.  Last year’s winner was Ginger.io, who “use machine learning and data mining to passively collect and analyze subtle signals of behavior change to better understand users’ social, physical and mental health status.”  The other four semi-finalists from last year are here.

Good luck!

Cellnovo: “Mobile-connected diabetes management system”

On February 9th, Cellnovo, a company based in the UK, announced they were launching a new system comprised of an integrated insulin pump connecting wirelessly to a touch-screen handset which then connects wirelessly to their software, allowing remote monitoring of a patient’s diabetes.  They also announced that they will be performing a clinical trial looking at their new system, as well as specifically focusing on the usability of insulin pumps and wireless diabetes technology

The Good:

  • Integrated pump with handheld and software: Everything looks to be well-designed and will work seamlessly together.  In fact, the handheld will also serve as a glucose monitor.
  • Wireless and automated: Anything that is going to succeed is going to have to be wireless.  Patients already spend enough time managing their diabetes.  Asking them to do more work and take extra steps is unfair and not going to work.  This system will record your glucose values and your insulin doses without you doing any extra work.  That is a big deal!

The Not-As-Good:

  • Closed system: Though the products designed by Cellnovo should all work well together, they represent yet another closed ecosystem in diabetes.  If you like one device from one company and one device from another, sorry.  Your data won’t be shared between them.

Texts to diabetic patients between clinic visits suggestive of benefits to care

New study published by Harry Fischer and colleagues in Denver shows increased participation in care by diabetes patients who received text message reminders between visits.  It looks like there was a big increase in the number of patients who provided glucose readings among the group receiving text messages.  Most importantly, the patients reported that they felt “more accountable.”  Accountability and patient empowerment are the trends that will continue to be more and more important and essential.

Abstract below:

Objectives: To assess the feasibility of engaging adults with diabetes in self management behaviors between clinic visits by using cell phone text messaging to provide blood sugar measurement prompts and appointment reminders.

Study Design: Quasi-experimental pilot among adult diabetic patients with cell phones who receive regular care at a federally qualified community health center in Denver, Colorado, which serves a population that is predominantly either uninsured (41%) or on Medicaid or Medicare (56%).

Methods: Patients (N = 47) received text message prompts over a 3-month period. Blood sugar readings were requested 3 times per week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). Reminders were sent 7, 3, and 1 day(s) before each scheduled appointment. Acknowledgments were returned for all patient-sent messages. Focus groups were conducted in English and Spanish with selected patients (n = 8).

Results: Patients of all ages were active participants. Correctly formatted responses were received for 67.3% of 1585 prompts. More than three-fourths (79%) of the cohort responded to more than 50% of their prompts. The appointment analysis was underpowered to detect significant changes in attendance. Participants reported increased social support, feelings that the program “made them accountable,” and increased awareness of health information. Two-thirds (66%) of patients provided glucose readings when prompted during the study, compared with 12% at 2 preceding clinic visits.

Conclusions: For certain patients, cell phone–based text messaging may enhance chronic disease management support and patient-provider communications beyond the clinic setting.

(Am J Manag Care. 2012;18(2):e42-e47)

Why diabetes? Why a blog? Why me?

Why diabetes?

Because diabetes is not just about science and pathophysiology.  Beyond the science, it is about culture, food, behavior and habits, and many other daily events in peoples’ lives.  I am a physician not only because I am captivated by the elegance of human physiology, but also because I am privileged to spend every day learning about my patients, who they are, and what their goals are.  I try to focus as much attention on each patient’s experience with disease as on his or her medical diagnosis and treatment.  This dual focus is essential to practicing diabetes care.

Because taking care of diabetes requires a LOT of work.  I am hopeful that new innovations will ease the burden on both patient and provider.

Why a blog?

Because, someday, diabetes will be “solved” by either an immunological solution or an artificial pancreas.  In the meantime, we have a rapidly growing arsenal of tools and new technologies to help treat patients.  Some will be useful, some will not.  As I have spent countless hours tracking Google News, blogs, and Twitter feeds to keep abreast of the latest, it only seems logical to share, or re-share, what I am able to collect (along with some commentary).

Because I live in San Francisco and everybody blogs.

Why me?

Because my first introduction to the medical field was diabetes.  I was lucky enough to be invited to spend a week as a medical staff assistant at a summer camp for teenagers with diabetes and was immediately inspired.  As an American Studies major at Northwestern, I wrote my thesis on the “Social and Cultural Barriers to Treating Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Urban Latinos.”  I’m now a fellow, training in Endocrinology, planning a career in caring for patients with diabetes.

Because I believe that technological innovations will help us make diabetes care more effective and more efficient.  I find technology fun and exciting, but am wary of implementing something new and shiny only because it is new and shiny (or even worse, has poor usability).  Technology must be used to make diabetes care either better, or cheaper, or both.

Thank you for reading.  I hope that this blog will serve as useful to both patients and those in the healthcare field seeking information on the latest advancements in diabetes technology.