Prevent diabetes? Doctors may soon have an app for that

Preventing the onset of debilitating illness requires making healthy choices, every day. This is especially true for diabetes. In Europe, a new program is empowering patients who are in danger of developing diabetes to play an active role in turning their health around, through clever integrated use of familiar devices.

The stakes are high. Worldwide, 422 million adults have diabetes, and this disease kills 1.6 million people per year. In the U.S. and Europe, nearly 10% of adults are diabetic. One in three Americans is prediabetic, but the vast majority of them don’t know it. Fortunately, prediabetes can be managed effectively, and even reversed, with lifestyle changes rather than medication.  

In 2016, 170 patients with metabolic syndrome around Germany were enrolled in the Accu-Chek View pilot project in general or internal medicine practices, conducted by Roche Diabetes Care Germany in cooperation with a health insurance company. Patients were given a glucose monitor and a fitness tracker, all of which transmit data wirelessly via Internet of Things (IoT) technology. They were also given an easy-to-use smartphone app that automatically collects data from those devices and other medical and activity parameters which are crucial for therapy guidance. The app transmits all of this information to their doctor.

On the healthcare provider’s side, the system provides alerts of potentially critical patient data, as well as a clear visualization of the patient’s progress toward goals for weight and other key medical and activity parameters. A doctor or diabetes coach can then use the system to communicate back to the patient via the app, to ask questions or offer congratulations and encouragement for positive results. This system also empowers doctors to know when to reach out directly to a patient, or recommend an office visit, if the data shows reason for concern.

 “Lifestyle intervention and behavioral change are notoriously hard to accomplish and sustain,” said Lars Kalfhaus, CEO of Roche Diabetes Care Germany. “This solution takes the necessary measurements and gives patients clear daily feedback on where they stand with their health status. It also makes it simpler for doctors to stay in touch with how patients are doing, and offer well-timed feedback and care. This closes the engagement loop to support the journey to lifestyle change.”

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