Wearables and other connected devices have been available to help treat chronic conditions like asthma and heart disease for a while now. But thus far, the nation’s 30 million diabetics largely have been ignored. They haven’t seen much to help them to improve their health or reduce the daily grind of finger pricks and needle pokes.
The $2.5 billion connected-care industry may be off to a late start in diabetes, but it’s making up for lost time. A new breed of connected glucometers, insulin pumps and smartphone apps is hitting the market that promise to make it easier for diabetics to manage the slow-progressing disease and keep them motivated with feedback and support. Startups and multinationals alike plan to showcase the technology this week in Las Vegas at the industry’s flagship health-tech show, produced by the Health Information and Management Systems Society, or HIMSS, industry group.
And in as little as two years, the industry plans to take charge of the entire uncomfortable, time-consuming routine of checking and regulating blood-sugar levels with something called an artificial pancreas. Such systems mimic the functions of a healthy pancreas by blending continuous glucose monitoring, remote-controlled insulin pumps and artificial intelligence to maintain healthy blood-sugar levels automatically.