Connecting the Dots: The Value of Partnerships in The Diabetes Industry
April Huang, Senior Director New Business and Domain Portfolio, Ascensia Diabetes Care
As we prepare to attend the GIANT Health Event 2020 later this week, we have been looking at the leaders in healthcare innovation and the exciting start-ups that will be on show again this year.
And the reason this type of event is interesting for us as a company in diabetes is simple. We do not believe that the challenges in diabetes can be overcome by one company working alone.
Diabetes is a complex condition that impacts almost half a billion people and their caregivers and loved ones. There are many different factors that impact blood glucose levels, such as diet, physical activity, medications, stress levels, or sleep. It is now understood that diabetes cannot be seen or treated as a standalone disease and that it needs to be managed holistically. For added complexity, diabetes is also often associated with various co-morbidities and complications, which may themselves require additional management. In addition, it is also not just the physical health of the person with diabetes, as their emotional and mental health can impact their diabetes too.
On top of this, we have the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 has resulted in significant mental health burden, worry and stigma for people with diabetes. Management has also become more difficult, as people have missed important appointments and screening visits. At the same time. COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of telehealth and enabled it to become a more established part of patient care, especially in long-term conditions, like diabetes.
This complexity means that companies in the diabetes industry need to approach diabetes management in a more holistic way. The most effective solutions of the future will aim to address the various challenges that a person with diabetes is facing and how they are impacting their diabetes management. And thus, it is clear to us that companies will need to collaborate with multiple partners from different parts of the diabetes industry in order to most effectively address the needs of people living with diabetes.
For Ascensia, we strive to improve the quality of life for people with diabetes by providing easy access to the solutions that can make a difference to them. So what does that mean? In our view this means building strong alliances with companies to develop an ecosystem of solutions that work together and make the lives of the person with diabetes easier.
There are many highly innovative companies out there, each one of them offering a solution for a different part of diabetes management. These companies are experts in their specific part of diabetes care. So rather than try to build something new, we believe in bringing together the best solutions from each area. Therefore, collaborations and partnerships will be essential to the development of an holistic solution for diabetes management.
One key aspect of an holistic solution will be connectivity. The priority will be to connect the dots between different devices, conditions and treatments as well as between patients and healthcare professionals. Through digital solutions, we want to be able to provide easy access to data and insights that would allow for better patient care.
Our core area of competency is blood glucose monitoring, but we know that measuring blood glucose levels is just one part of diabetes management. To make it easier to interpret, a person with diabetes wants to bring together various pieces of information in one place.
For example, the data that is collected about a person’s sleep should be available to help them interpret their blood glucose levels. And tools to monitor and support mental health should be used especially at critical junctures of a person’s diabetes journey. By bringing together various monitoring devices, interventions and analysis tools, it can help to improve all aspects of their diabetes management.
It is important to keep in mind that data security and data privacy will be critical if these types of connected networks of solutions are to be created. This will not only require highly secure safeguards for an individual’s personal data, but will need the person’s agreement and consent, as they are the owner of their own health data.
Future solutions also need to seamlessly integrate into the lives of people with diabetes with minimal efforts needed by the individual. At the moment, many people are using a variety of disparate systems and that does not support decision making. We want to change that entirely by providing a solution that enables data to move more seamlessly and safely between systems, making the lives of people with diabetes simpler and minimizing the effort they need to manage diabetes.
Having access to various types of health data has the potential to improve diabetes self-management by enabling better analysis. For example, if data from multiple wearables, such as blood pressure monitors or activity trackers, could be gathered by the same app or digital solution that collects blood glucose data, it could enable treatment choices and management advice to be tailored to the bespoke needs of the patient.
To truly support diabetes management, these solutions will need to provide actionable insights based on the data they collect data, such as coaching, medication advice, support with lifestyle improvements or disease management recommendations. The use of machine learning and artificial intelligence in this area is starting to lead to the ability to provide predictive feedback and identify when a patient could be on course for an issue, to allow for earlier intervention.
This is complex and requires many areas of expertise to come together to achieve an holistic solution. And this is why we do not believe we can do this alone and will need to work with many partners, large and small. It is only by deeply understanding the need of the person with diabetes and collaborating with partners across the industry that we will be able to connect the dots. Through our partnerships, we are aiming to bring together some of the most effective solutions in diabetes management, with the ultimate aim of making the lives of people with diabetes easier.