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Upcoming Diabetes Technologies

Among the most common chronic illnesses around the world, the CDC states that diabetes develops in about 1 in 10 Americans. Of this number, up to 8 in 10 don’t even know they have it. This dangerous prevalence can cost upwards of $327 billion in annual medical bills nationwide, while also being the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. As a result of this growing health issue, the medical industry is continuing to develop and adopt game-changing technologies that can, hopefully, stem the damage of diabetes. Here are some of them:

Diabetic-Focused Telehealth

Over the past two years, telehealth has become a universal resource that has helped stem the unprecedented demand for healthcare. As detailed in an article on the healthcare landscape by Maryville University, whereas telehealth was once viewed with skepticism, it is now a common platform for patients and providers alike. Now a reimbursable medical experience for many insurance holders, telehealth has increased inclusivity in healthcare. Most notably, telehealth has even become a convenient resource in rural communities with too few physicians. In line with this unparalleled convenience, many healthcare providers are creating specific tools that can further enhance telehealth for diabetes management.

For instance, the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) encourages the mass roll-out of mobile phone apps. These apps are designed to improve communication by allowing patients to enter in data, which can later be used by doctors to enhance their telehealth consultations. Ultimately, the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s research on telehealth effects in diabetics has determined that such efforts can offer much more beneficial results in patients. This is especially the case among patients with type 2 diabetes, which affects up to 95% of all individuals who develop the disease. Moving forward, telehealth champions continue to work on complementary tools that patients, carers, and healthcare workers can leverage to make telehealth a primary diabetes resource.

Virtual Reality Consultations

Given that virtual reality has become a powerful asset in many industries, it should be no surprise that it has similarly penetrated healthcare. In regards to diabetes, virtual reality is poised to become a next frontier in better physician training. According to virtual reality studies in healthcare published by JMIR, this relatively new training platform can result in more nuanced healthcare practices. This is because while much of medicine is based on objective fact, a growing trend has revealed that patient outcome is also reliant on their satisfaction. As such, patients who were more comfortable with healthcare workers have been found to be more likely to follow treatment plans and recommendations. Through virtual reality training, healthcare workers are better able to prepare for treating patients with diabetes.

Case in point, a comprehensive study in southeastern Appalachian Ohio found that healthcare providers who participated in cine-VR education improved their cultural self-efficacy and diabetes attitudes. In the long run, this can further improve universal healthcare and lower health illiteracy, even in far-flung regions or areas with less access to commercial healthcare.

Smart Wearable Technology

Because diabetes requires constant vigilance, many believe that wearable technologies are the key to better diabetes management. Forbes' overview of diabetes management solutions notes that wearables are expected to make tracking blood sugar and administering insulin more accurate. This is because wearables can continuously track fluctuates in a patient’s blood sugar levels throughout their daily activities. This then allows doctors to map out what specific triggers a patient may be vulnerable to. For instance, a wearable device can note water intake and sleep hygiene. Both of these are factors that can affect blood sugar levels, fatigue, and quality of life, as mentioned in our post “Why Are We So Tired?” Since some blood sugar spikes can lead to morbid outcomes, some wearables are even outfitted to send alerts to emergency contacts in the event of sudden changes. Although wearables among diabetic patients are not yet the norm, it is seeing increasing levels of acceptance.

Recently, device makers have also been looking into creating closed loop systems. These are another form of wearable devices that are an enhancement of the already-existing insulin pumps. Through these, patients with severe diabetes need not manually control the rate at which their medication is steadily pumped out. Instead, the smart technology in upcoming closed loop systems will be able to monitor a patient’s blood sugar levels in real-time and then make the necessary modifications to the dosage.

Considering how broad the effects of diabetes are, the emergence and adoption of these upcoming technologies cannot come sooner. While diabetes was previously seen as a life sentence, with these new innovations and already available innovations like our VIVI solutions, patients and providers can still look forward to a happy and healthy life.

 

This article was specially written for TempraMed.com by Aileen Grace.

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