“There are currently about half a billion people with diabetes,” explains Marcel Gmünder, Global Head of Roche Diabetes Care. “You might call it the 21st-century epidemic.” By 2045, around 700 million people will be affected by diabetes.1 This is due to growing prosperity in emerging countries and the associated lifestyle changes—and the fact that it is now possible to better diagnose diabetes in these countries.
Although widespread, diabetes is often not appropriately diagnosed or incorrectly managed. Very few people with the condition actually reach their personal therapy targets. This state of affairs is primarily attributable to clinical inertia—in other words, lack of motivation, depressive states or too little time with a doctor.
“Diabetes demands constant monitoring by people living with it,” says Marcel. People with diabetes have to make about 50 treatment decisions every day. This contrasts starkly with the fact that they spend less than 5 hours a year with their doctor.2 Making incorrect treatment decisions over a period of years— meaning living with poor blood sugar values—may mean devastating long term consequences such as blindness, heart attacks or amputation.
To address the problem of clinical inertia and put patients more squarely centre stage, there needs to be a change in the way that people with diabetes receive support. Advanced technology ranging from artificial intelligence to digital sensors and wearables is playing an important role in this shift by delivering a growing amount of health- and diabetes-related data. However, it is important that the daily data deluge does not overwhelm the people affected, but aids them in achieving their personal treatment targets.
This is where Roche Diabetes Care and integrated Personalised Diabetes Management (iPDM) come in. iPDM is a comprehensive approach to therapy management that covers everything from blood glucose measurement to digital documentation and personalised treatment. It helps people living with diabetes deal with the daily challenges and strengthens the doctor-patient relationship by making it easier to track the effect of medical treatment, diet and lifestyle changes on blood glucose levels. But how does it actually work?
iPDM at Roche Diabetes Care centres around the open ecosystem, which provides a way of tailoring diabetes management to each individual person. In concrete terms, the open ecosystem seamlessly feeds data from hardware such as blood glucose meters and insulin pumps to digital solutions such as apps, and analyses it. “The open ecosystem is our way of filling a need felt by people with diabetes,” explains Marcel. “They want to be able to combine health and diabetes information they get from their devices to create a broader picture that will enable them to take better treatment decisions and lead a freer existence.” This is what Roche’s open ecosystem offers. Analysing data provides deeper insights that help increase the amount of time people with diabetes spend in their blood glucose target ranges that is the aim of therapy. People with diabetes can enable data sharing with their doctor. This helps healthcare professionals to make the most of the few hours a year they spend with their patients and adapt treatment in light of the data.
From the perspective of people with diabetes, the cornerstone of the open ecosystem—and also Roche Diabetes Care’s primary interface to people with diabetes—is a diabetes management app. The app is where data from various sources come together. Marcel is keen to make clear that “we are consequently moving forward in expanding its functionality through insights from products and solutions that include our own as well as partner solutions”.
Things on the doctor’s side centre around a digital platform, directly accessible from the point of care, offering the management of multiple patients within a single solution. For this purpose, it can be used to analyse data from several devices and different companies. “Imagine a pensioner who has a high blood sugar level every Tuesday afternoon because he always has a cup of coffee and a slice of cake at 4 o’clock on Tuesday,” says Marcel, explaining the advantages of this diabetes management solution. “Using the data the digital platform delivers, his doctor can easily detect a pattern, discuss it with him and adapt his treatment recommendations.”
“Our vision is to simplify everyday treatment for people with diabetes all over the world so their condition becomes less of a constant burden,” Marcel explains. Life should be made perceptibly easier for people with diabetes and their families to bring true relief. The creation of an open ecosystem already marks an important step forward in transforming this vision into reality.
1. IDF Diabetes Atlas 9th ed., International Diabetes Federation, 2019
2. Barnes et al., Diabetes Educ., 2004; Chen et al., Archives of internal medicine, 2009
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