Diabetes and technology, a summary from Abu Dhabi

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Last week, our founders were at the biennial International Diabetes Federation Congress in Abu Dhabi, finding out more about the trends of the sector and the current situation of technology applied to diabetes: sensors, apps and the digital pancreas.

Discussions were held on technological advances and above all, on their ability to respond to the current challenges of diabetes management and the generation of real and measurable results.

Technology as a tool

A very common perception, not just at this event but also with regards to all reflections that we usually hear on technology, is that the discussions focus too much on just the technical and functional aspects of technology.

The key to technology adoption in terms of bringing real benefit for the user is not the technology per se, but rather the achievement of real longstanding transformation. It is about humanizing the user’s experience in relation to technology, reducing any barriers to use, having a good time even demonstrating the (collective and individual) return, as well as connecting the user to its social environment. If we don’t transform habits, we won’t get anywhere.

8 risks and behaviors generate 15 chronic diseases that account for 80% of the total cost of all chronic diseases worldwide

At SocialDiabetes, we are convinced that a holistic, integrated approach is necessary, one that puts the patient at the centre and provides a digital platform that is at the service of the user and not the other way round.

Open ecosystems

We agree with one of the most lauded messages from the panel discussions that we attended: opening structures, collaborating and including users, patients and carers in the design process is the path to take.

The industry is developing closed platforms whereby the data can only be analyzed by apps that depend on specific hardware. For chronic patients to really gain control of their disease, the ecosystem must open up, giving the patient the ability to choose the part of the system they want to use for each particular need at all times (test strips, pumps, apps, sensors).

This will require the collective power of the patients.

Digital platforms

Lastly, we identified three trends that will shape the foreseeable future of digital platforms for diabetes:

  • A combination of technology and psychology to tackle habits and achieve behavioural changes.
  • Technological integration to offer personalized solutions in real time.
  • Socialisation: patients, family members and professionals who are connected and in constant communication.

And of course, advances in research into the artificial pancreas, which aims to go one step further and significantly improve the quality of life of people with diabetes.

There are already 20 projects related to the artificial pancreas in the world, although they are still at a very early stage. We will discuss the artificial pancreas in more detail over the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

 

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