Digital Healthcare Takes On Diabetes

Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States in 2015, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Type 2 diabetes is one of the most expensive chronic illnesses in America. Nearly half of adults in the US either have diabetes or pre-diabetes and experts warn that most don’t even know until it’s too late. Globally, the problem is just as dire, with The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimating that around 232 million people worldwide are undiagnosed, putting them at high risk of developing diabetes-related problems including blindness, nerve damage, heart disease, and limb amputation.

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Prevention is critical and pioneering Swiss healthcare company, Roche under their Diabetes Care subsidiary, has started looking at digital solutions to this epidemic.

"It's very important to have information on glucose levels and other markers immediately accessible by doctors and healthcare professionals," said Pedro Goncalves, head of Roche Diabetes Care Region International.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen the digital healthcare sector boom. The use of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, mobile health technology, blockchain, and wearables have facilitated better solutions, increased knowledge and accessibility. So how is digital healthcare going to help fight diabetes?

"It's not about providing only clinical decisions like prescribing [medication], it's really about helping them understand what they do, what they eat, how to balance their lifestyle so they can control the disease better," Goncalves explained.

mySugr, founded by Roche in 2012 is a free mobile app helping diabetes sufferers manage their illness. By collecting and consolidating data in one place, it’s a useful tool not just for sufferers but for professional health providers. With a user-friendly interface, mySugr is a popular choice, boasting more than a million users worldwide. Where the app shines is in its high quality, one-on-one educational feature, mySugr Coaching which for $39.99/month offers advice from award-winning diabetes educators to keep people on track between doctor visits.

In 2017, Roche Diabetes Care partnered with OurPath in the UK, to promote a healthy lifestyle digital program targetting diabetes prevention with healthier lifestyle choices. "It's about preventive action and the need to work on the early stage of diabetes, so we avoid this epidemic that is taking place,” Goncalves added.