In their latest study, “Access to Quality Medicines and Medical Devices for Diabetes Care in Europe”, the International Diabetes Federation Europe conducted a survey on the challenges people with diabetes are facing when seeking access to diabetes treatment.
The IDF Europe outlined several of these challenges in the blog post “Improving access to medical technologies for diabetes care in Europe”, including limited access to information and education used for managing the disease. We would like to thank MedTech Europe for giving us this opportunity to share our insights and our approach on the accessibility of medical technology.
Looking at diabetes care holistically
As discussed in the “Medtronic Responds to IDF Europe – Closing the Gaps in Diabetes care” blog post, we completely agree that companies in the medical technology field are already extensively communicating both online and offline to provide the fullest information and education on devices as possible and to educate as wide as possible.
At Sanofi Diabetes we know about the importance of safe and effective drugs for the treatment of diabetes given our extensive insulin portfolio and drug development expertise. However, we also believe that medicine is only one element of successful patient care. Only if we holistically look at diabetes management will we truly make a difference for people living daily with the condition. We are committed to developing an integrated approach to diabetes care. Our approach combines aspects such as innovative medicine, medical technology, plus support services that leverage novel mobile and e-health technologies which we can utilise today. We believe that providing access to education and essential information on diabetes treatment is not enough. The key is patient empowerment.
E-health is happening: making information more widely available
We know that e-health and information and communication technology are powerful techniques for the management of diabetes. The internet is part of many people’s daily lives; technology continues to evolve and new web-based solutions and mobile applications are continuously being invented. We believe these new technologies are a great opportunity to not only provide information on diabetes technologies, but also educate both patients and healthcare professionals. We are embracing this digital health revolution; forming partnerships to offer patient centric services, web-based solutions, mobile applications, diabetes technologies and services for patients, physicians and healthcare professionals.
We are working to offer solutions that allow for the easy integration of diabetes management in patients’ daily lives. One of our blood glucose monitoring devices connects to the iPhone and iPod Touch and works in conjunction with a diabetes management App. After blood glucose testing with the device, results will automatically be uploaded on the App. People with diabetes can then manage, analyse and send test results as an email to their healthcare professional – including blood glucose, carbohydrate intake and insulin dosage.
We are developing web-based solutions, which facilitates the dialogue between patients and physicians. Through the remote access to test results, physicians are able to educate patients on their therapy progress and provide personalised patient care. In return, patients can easier follow their prescribed treatments between doctor appointments. In the long run, this may lead to even stronger motivation in managing their diabetes which may result in overall improved health outcomes.
We are also conducting clinical studies to demonstrate the efficacy of mobile technology for daily diabetes management. The demonstration of the positive impact smart technology is having on improving long-term health outcomes, is an important step forward in making diabetes technology more accessible (e.g. in discussions with health authorities, studies).
We can see a trend towards the connectivity and interoperability of medical devices and solutions – meaning they communicate with each other and exchange diabetes-related data. , It is estimated that by the end of 2018, 310 million people globally living with diabetes will use smartphones and tablets. The number of active diabetes App users will increase by 71% over the next five years, to reach 24 million.
There will be 9.5 million devices that connect to diabetes Apps in the next five years. In the same time period, more than 1.8 million diabetes App users will access subscriptions or on-time services (e.g. remote monitoring or consultation by their healthcare professionals).1
Making sense of the data: educating patients and healthcare professionals through medical technology and solutions
It is essential that people with diabetes are constantly educated, motivated and empowered to actively manage their diabetes every day, preventing the development of disease-related complications. Today access to information seems a lot easier. Through mobile and web-based healthcare solutions and services, new information technology is already available for people with chronic diseases such as diabetes. However, we believe that providing information alone is not enough. Patients need to understand how to adapt this information to their individual needs and what actions need to be taken for optimal disease (self-) management.
We develop all our diabetes devices and services with the patient in mind. We help them understand diabetes-related information clearer; combining the latest technology to educate patients on their diabetes and how their treatments are working for them.
Every day many blood glucose tests have to be performed by people with diabetes. We see that patients often do not know what to do about their results and what these numbers personally mean to them. We believe that we can make it easier for patients to understand their blood glucose data, so we introduced intuitive feedback functions in some of our solutions to demonstrate progress in managing the disease. Ultimately, this may help people with diabetes to stay motivated to take an active role in managing their diabetes.
With the help of our blood glucose monitoring devices and accompanying software and applications we educate patients on the meaning of their test results– a prerequisite for understanding diabetes, treatments and therapy options. One of the latest additions to our meter portfolio provides an estimate of the long-term blood glucose average (HbA1c value), along with easy to understand graphical representations of blood sugar information and trends.
Building efficient educational platforms: turning information into knowledge
By engaging with and listening to patients, we are not only identifying which diabetes technology solutions and support services patients are looking for with their diabetes (self-) management. Feedback on how widely patients are educated and how their level of education is increasing is also received. Therefore, we are developing our diabetes devices, solutions and support services tailored to local patients’ needs across all our markets. Educational platforms, campaigns and mobile applications for the public are part of our commitment to patient education, in accordance with local requirements.
Local patient support services, such as hotlines, or information websites accompany our educational offering, by providing patients with product and device information.
For example, our food tracking app is designed to aid people with diabetes in making healthy lifestyle choices at home or on the go. The app includes tools for eating healthy, staying active, and tracking of blood glucose levels. We are also partnering with professional societies, patient organisations, health insurances and other stakeholders to create ongoing awareness around diabetes prevention, plus the best possible therapy for people living with the condition. In Germany, for instance, we are running a comprehensive programme with diabetes risk checks and education on healthy nutrition in shopping centres for many years, where we target the wider public, diabetes patients and healthcare professionals.
The power of empowerment
We believe some of the challenges of living with diabetes today can be overcome if people feel empowered to actively engage in their own management of the disease. We must look at their lifestyles, plus create a better patient experience through the services and solutions we offer. It is vital we use smart technology and support tools that are able to turn diabetes-related information into real knowledge. For instance, together with a non-profit organization and medical software company we co-developed Diabeo, a mobile application with diabetes management decision-making support. Diabeo offers diabetes patients personalised treatment advice and is currently evaluated in the Telesage study involving 700 patients which will be followed by nearly 200 hospital and private diabetologists in France for 2 years. The mobile app helps patients adjust their long-acting and mealtime insulin, facilitates patient-healthcare professional interaction, and supports remote tele monitoring. It provides patients with coaching messages reinforcing adherence to healthcare professional guidance on glucose monitoring and enables communication with healthcare professionals. We will not stop empowering patients to understand their treatment, their therapy progress and how they can actively manage their disease to live a fulfilled life.
– Anton Petkov, Associate Vice President, Marketing, Devices and Solutions, Sanofi Global Diabetes Division
Editors’ Note: This blog is in reponse to International Diabetes Federations blog contribution “Improving access to medical technologies for diabetes care in Europe.”