Diabetes Technology: Will It Change Your Life?

Kathleen Doheny
Add to favorites

New devices continue to hold the promise to make diabetes easier to manage, particularly with the variety of new technological innovations arriving at a fast and furious pace.

Already, some advances are making the often-dreaded finger pricks a thing of the past, while closed loop systems help automate insulin delivery and are termed by one expert as the “the self-driving car” of diabetes management.

Admittedly, it can be difficult, even frustrating, to try and keep up with what’s new and which technology innovation may benefit which people, so we asked two experts to weigh in on what they see as the most promising new health-based devices—offering advances that don’t only impress tech experts but might just inspire and motivate people with diabetes who are looking for solutions to make self-managing their health easier ... and even simplify their lives.

This list has been compiled with guidance from our two experts:

. David T. Ahn, MD, program director and Kris V. Iyer Endowed Chair in Diabetes Care at the Mary and Dick Allen Diabetes Center for Hoag Hospital, Newport Beach, California.

. Amy Hess-Fischl, MS,RD, LDN, BC-ADM, CDCES, a diabetes educator and the transitional program coordinator at Kovler Diabetes Center in Chicago, Illinois. Hess-Fischl is a member of our Editorial Advisory Board.

New products and solutions are being introduced daily, so we will continue to update this list regularly.

Continuous Glucose Monitoring Minus Calibration

Abbott’s continuous glucose monitoring system (CGM), FreeStyle Libre 2, is now available with an app for iPhones. That means you can scan your sensor using the FreeStyle Libre 2 app instead of the reader. This newest approach to continuous glucose monitoring can replace the traditional blood glucose finger prick check; instead blood glucose levels are read through a sensor worn on the back of the upper arm. The sensor can now be left in place for up to 14 days, according to the manufacturer.¹

Another option is the Dexcom G6, which can send glucose readings to your smart phone or Dexcom receiver, with no finger sticks (unless symptoms or expectations don’t match readings).²

Getting rid of finger pricks is welcomed by nearly all people with diabetes, Dr. Ahn says. So much so that he predicts this technology, aimed first at those with type 1 diabetes, will soon be embraced by the type 2 diabetes market.

Closed Loop System = Artificial Pancreas

Also called the world’s first artificial pancreas, the hybrid closed-loop insulin delivery system took first place on the Cleveland Clinic’s list of top 10 medical innovations for 2018³. The system, also called an automated insulin delivery device, “helps make Type 1 diabetes more manageable,” the Cleveland Clinic experts said. The system made the “most promising” list from both experts.

They were talking about the Medtronic Minimed 670 G system. Direct communication between the continuous glucose monitoring device and the insulin pump produces a stabilized blood glucose. The new technology replaces the so-called open loop concept that requires patients to access information from the CGM to determine how much insulin they need to inject.⁴

Now, technology has advanced even more. There’s the Medtronic Minimed 780G System.⁵ It is a self dosing basal insulin pump with autocorrection dosing.

Smart Pens for Easier Insulin Injection

Smart pens, now offered by a few companies, were a favorite of Dr. Ahn’s. One example is Medtronics’ InPen. ⁶

The InPen is a reusable smart insulin pen that uses Bluetooth technology to send dose information to a mobile app. According to the company, it offers support with dose calculations and tracking, thereby taking some of the “mental math” out of diabetes management.

According to Medtronics: “The pen injector is compatible with Lilly Humalog® U-100 3.0 mL cartridges, Novo Nordisk Novolog® U-100 3.0 mL cartridges, and Novo Nordisk Fiasp® U-100 3.0 mL cartridges and single-use detachable and disposable pen needles (not included). The pen injector allows the user to dial the desired dose from 0.5 to 30 units in one-half (1/2) unit increments.”

Strategy Needed to Make the Most of New Devices

Most importantly, diabetes self-care technology must be personalized, says Hess-Fischl. “Figure out what system is your system,” she says, by discussing the options with a certified diabetes educator or a doctor who knows the technology.

For instance, she says, the artificial pancreas system has wonderful features, but may not work well for someone who wants to manipulate their insulin and not give up what they perceive as needed control. On the other hand, a person who is struggling to manage their blood sugar and finds themselves falling short in meeting glucose goals despite earnest efforts may do well with it, she says.

Consider your preference, as well as your comfort level with technology. “It becomes very personal,” she says, so deciding which technology is best requires an in-depth discussion between you and your healthcare professional, and this may change as the device options evolve.

Dr. Ahn reports no disclosures. Hess-Fischl is on the speakers’ bureaus for Abbott Diabetes Care and Xeris Pharmaceuticals.

Ask your healthcare provider about whether or not new devices may be help you manage your diabetes.
 

Ask your healthcare provider about whether or not new devices may be help you manage your diabetes.