Four ways tech improves chronic disease management
Finding technology solutions to diagnose and manage chronic conditions is critical to the future of healthcare. Half of Americans currently suffer from chronic conditions, and 25% of Americans have two or more chronic diseases, according to the CDC. This number is expected to skyrocket as the Baby Boomer population ages.
“Technology has made inroads into the patient consult and clinical work flow in ways physicians could have scarcely imagined just a decade ago,” says Edward I. Ginns, MD, PhD, DABCC, neurology franchise medical director at Quest Diagnostics. “Today, physicians can access clinical, prescribing and other patient data at their fingertips using electronic medical records and associated technologies, such as clinical analytics and mobile devices.”
Quest Diagnostics is just one of many companies working to find solutions to help patients be more accountable for their healthcare, while being cost effective and interoperable for health systems. It’s a challenge to balance multiple healthcare goals, Ginns says.
“While these technologies have yet to fulfill their potential to contribute to good medical practice, it is evident that they afford opportunities to better manage patient care, improve efficiency, and consider population-health insights in medical decision-making,” he says.
Below is a snapshot of upcoming technology solutions that aim at making chronic conditions more manageable.
Non-invasive blood glucose monitors promise accuracy
Up to 67% of patients with diabetes say finger-pricking and other glucose testing is invasive and painful. Researchers have worked for years to find easier, less painful methods.
Ronny Priefer, PhD, professor of medicinal chemistry; and Michael Rust, PhD, associate professor of biomedical engineering; both of Western New England University, presented a handheld device that measures blood glucose levels based on a patient’s breath at the 2016 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Annual Meeting and Exposition. Currently, the device is the size of a small book, but Priefer says that once it hits the market, it will be the size of a smartphone.
“A technology that is non-invasive will improve the compliance levels of blood glucose monitoring for the diabetic population,” says Priefer. “Improved compliance equals decreased diabetic complications. Diabetic complications are a $250 billion annual problem within the United States.”
The device detects a correlation between blood glucose levels and breath acetone in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. “It has been tested against a common blood-glucose monitoring finger-prick device, which has a reported accuracy of ±15%,” Priefer says.
The researchers say they hope the device will be on the market by 2020. Priefer adds that it will have Bluetooth technology and be available to both patients and clinicians.