How Healthcare Technology is Battling Diabetes

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Needle injecting insulinTechnology has strongly impacted healthcare for well over a century. From machines found in hospitals, to personal devices that impact our health while driving in a car, it seems like new health technology is everywhere. It has facilitated the change in AIDS from a deadly epidemic to an increasingly treatable virus whose victims can now live long lives. When it comes to diabetes, a disease that affects one in eleven Americans, technology is allowing for greater autonomy and self-management than ever before [2]. Here’s how today’s health informatics online students have a chance to be at the forefront of technological advances in the years to come.

For those suffering from diabetes, this is an exciting time as new technology continues to advance how we treat the disease. According to Dr. Elena Toschi, Staff Physician in the Adult Diabetes Section at Joslin Diabetes Center and Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, several technological advances, slated to be rolled out over the next year, will break new ground in the battle against diabetes [1].

Bionic Pancreas

In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that allows the body to turn glucose into energy. Theoretically, an artificial pancreas could produce insulin and be a life-changing solution for diabetics.

Dr. Ed Damiano of Boston University has plans to commercialize the Bionic Pancreas through a corporation called Beta Bionics. Plans are in the works to test a fully integrated dual chamber pump in a study by the end of 2016[1].

Nasal Glucose

Locemia is a nasal spray that allows diabetics to inhale a powdered glucagon via through their nasal passages in order to boost blood sugar levels in emergencies. Experts say it is a vast improvement over traditional glucagon kits and their complex mixing instructions [4].

To use, one simply inserts the vial into the nostril, pushes a button and inhales a puff of the powder. It works within a few minutes. When it comes to technology that aids in glucose level emergencies, this product could help diabetics significantly.

Hybrid-Closed Loop Insulin Pump

The Medtronic Diabetes group is testing a new insulin pump that is considered a hybrid-closed loop because it combines the use of a pump and a glucose monitor[4]. Based on readings, the pump’s software will increase or decrease basal insulin delivery every five minutes. Though users will still need to take fast acting insulin for meals and during exercise, this hybrid pump could make life easier for some diabetics.

Smart Contact Lenses

Google has been working on a “smart contact lens” project that would measure glucose levels through tears with a special contact lens worn on the eyes[5]. The project is also looking into whether it is possible for LED lights to show when glucose levels have passed a threshold. Data from the lenses could possibly be transmitted to a smart phone for analysis.

There is very good news on the horizon for diabetics. Some amazing new advances in technology could make regulating insulin and sugar levels much easier. From devices that can administer glucagon nasally to the possibility of artificial pancreas technology, modern medical science is helping to improve the lives of diabetics. Hopefully, the years ahead will prove to be technologically beneficial to adults and children alike who suffer from diabetes. With a master’s degree in health informatics, you obtain the background to help create a higher quality of life for those suffering from diabetes.