Diabetics…What Does Technology Mean for you?

It’s no secret that Diabetes is an epidemic in our country. It’s all over the media, billboards, brochures in healthcare offices, education offered at various places of employment…everywhere you look, you will hear a discussion about Diabetes in America . According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 25.8 million children and adults in the United States has Diabetes (roughly 8.3% of the population). http://www.diabetes.org/

With all the advances in technology, many are geared towards the Diabetic patient population. While there is no cure, technology can definitely help normalize the lives of Diabetics.  Let’s take a look at what devices are currently available and  what is currently being tested for future use.

Insulin pumps have been around since 1963. But at that time they were not exactly a practical size (the equivalent of carrying a backpack) nor were they cost efficient for most patients. Now they are the size of a pager, and usually covered by insurance. Insulin pumps quickly deliver insulin throughout the day, in accordance with the patient’s blood glucose level.

There is no need for the user to prick their fingers before and after each meal, wait for the monitor to read their glucose level, adjust insulin according to a sliding scale and then inject themselves. This makes complying with Diabetes much more feasible for many people. Currently interactive insulin pumps are being tested in the United States. These will allow data to be exchanged (between patient and their home PC for record keeping, and between patient and their healthcare provider).

Advantages of using an insulin pump

Disadvantages of using an insulin pump 

Interactive insulin pump, has been released in the UK, has been released by the FDA for use in the United States…but has not been issued for commercial use as of yet.

Continuous glucose monitoring is another huge advancement in technology. These are not intended for day-to-day monitoring, they are used to find glucose level trends. Typically the patient will wear the sensor (which goes just under their abdomen skin and is reported to a home monitor) for 3 days, then they will discuss with their health care provider what the results mean and what their treatment options are. The newest continuous monitors can report glucose levels up to 288 times per day! This will quickly give a larger picture of the patients active levels and trends. There are several brands out there, here is a good example.

Many healthcare provider’s will track your glucose levels in their office. They may test you there and enter it into their Electronic Health Record system, or have you bring in your home monitoring log and enter those results in. By recording them into the EHR, it is much easier to monitor trends and track levels at a glance.

“Is there an app for that”, of course!  There are many options for medical related applications. This puts access to controlling your health right at your fingertips. One very popular app is GlucoseBuddy. This app is free, and you can record your glucose levels, a1C levels, medication log, option to printout results to take to your doctor…you can even set up reminders for glucose level testing reminders.

Another popular Diabetic app is SiDiary, this app can be used on over 100 devices. You can quickly sync this app on your iPhone, Android, iPad and many other devices. SiDiary has a handy graphing feature, a nutrition database and has the capability to send SMS messages with your results to your healthcare provider. SiDiary can also be translated into language other than English. These are just two great examples of apps for Diabetics. There are many options available depending on your needs.

Being involved in your care, rather than relying solely on your Physician will greatly improve your health and result in a longer life. Take advantage of technology!

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