The Digitisation of Diabetes: Opportunities and Challenges for Industry

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Publication Date:
March 2020
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Assessing the revolutionary impact of digital technologies on the management of diabetes

Advanced digital technologies and devices are driving fundamental change in the management of both Type 1 and 2 diabetes—from continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems delivering critical health data in real time to artificial intelligence and machine learning-based applications that enable patients to more effectively manage their disease in a sustainable manner. But as this fast-paced sector evolves, challenges around the interoperability of devices across platforms and healthcare systems, data security and creating user-friendly interfaces must be overcome.

The better management of diabetes is a win-win for all stakeholders and medtech companies can leverage considerable commercial value. That is why, in The Digitisation of Diabetes: Opportunities and Challenges for Industry, we interviewed leading sector experts to give you a clear perspective of the current reality and the future development pathways this rapidly emerging field could take.

Experts explore key issues

  • In what ways are medtech companies currently applying digital technologies to improve the diagnosis, treatment and management of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?
  • What are the key challenges of bringing digital technologies and commercial mobile apps to the diabetes market?
  • What strategies are companies using to gain a foothold in the CGM arena?
  • What smart delivery strategies are companies applying to improve insulin devices for patient convenience and better disease management?
  • What impact could digitised all-in-one solutions have on the shift in pricing models toward value-based care?
  • What are medtech companies doing to address the question of interoperability between platforms and patients' concerns regarding data privacy?

What our experts say…

"The main challenge is that each individual with diabetes requires a personalised approach, so it's a bit difficult to create standardised algorithms that apply across an entire population. Every person has so many different things that apply; one standard algorithm doesn't necessarily achieve the outcome you're looking for, and might put them at risk as well. In the future AI could help support physicians and help guide recommendation but I don't know if anyone has enough data to allow the extensive level of personalization that is required. Maybe the UK National Health Services Database has enough, due to its long history of capturing aggregated data. Recommendations in real-world environments not only incorporate evidence-guided approaches and best practice, but also the psychologic position of each patient."
Athena Philis-Tsimikas MD,
Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute

"I do think that there is a big emphasis for companies to focus on paying for performance versus just the services rendered. It continues to be a challenge for companies to justify the cost that they're charging and probably the best example even in general medicine is the high cost of insulin products, and whether that cost is justified. Anything a company could do to show that it's improving outcomes is going to be important to justify the costs or the price that is being charged. The US is evolving more to the British model and looking at management of medical costs based on actual benefits that they provide, a pay-for-performance model that really squeezes every company to justify the cost of what they're selling."
Alexander Fleming MD,

"There are significant opportunities for pharmaceutical and medical device companies to work more closely together to design a system that's able to deliver insulin and glucagon or a DPP-4, GLP-1 through the same site so everything is communicating, and all these other hormones that play a role and blood glucose homeostasis are controlled. At the same time, addressing all of the other things that are also important to ensure that the patient is using less insulin so that they have less hypo/hyper-glycaemia. It's more of an allopathic approach than an individual approach. But that would require a huge amount of collaboration from all of the different manufacturers to ensure that they're able to stabilise these drugs in some type of delivery device."
Heidi Soto,
MannKind Corporation

What to expect

  • A detailed expert investigation of the digital initiatives that are driving progress in the management of diabetes and the technologies/companies which are spearheading change
  • An examination of four key issues which medtech and digital technology developers need to understand and respond to
  • 20 targeted questions put to experts
  • Their perceptive responses that provided 29 insights supported by 66 directly quoted comments

Expert contributors

The report is based on interviews with medical diagnostic experts that have experience with digital technologies in medical devices and are involved in product development in the medtech arena.

Contributors to the report:

  • Alexander Fleming, MD, Executive Chairman, Kinexum (Co-moderator) Endocrinologist and metabolic disease specialist. Former FDA CDER leader in medical reviews that resulted in landmark approvals of metformin, the first statin, and other medicines.
  • Athena Philis-Tsimikas MD, Corporate Vice President for the Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute. Prior to assuming her current role in 2008, she led the institute and subsidiary corporation, The Whittier Institute for Diabetes, as the Executive Director and Chief Medical Officer since 2004.
  • Heidi Soto, Area Business Manager, MannKind Corporation, was formerly a territory manager for Insulet Corporation and senior specialty sales representative for Eli Lilly's Diabetes and Endocrine Business Unit. She has a proven track record in marketing and sales, selling a portfolio of products to physicians, pharmacists, nurses, hospitals, and medical staff involved in patient care, features, benefits, and services.
  • Professor Mike Trenell, founder and CEO of Changing Health, is a clinical scientist with a specialist interest in healthcare innovation and strategy. In 2016 he was appointed founding Director of the UK National Institute for Health Research Innovation Observatory (NIHR) and provides strategic insight to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), Department of Health, NHS England, National Institute for Health Research, academia and industry.

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