Diabetes: The Past, The Present, The Future
By Luigi Meneghini, Head of Sanofi US Diabetes Medical
Technology: The Key to Better Supporting the Lives of People with Diabetes
As we take time this November during American Diabetes Month to reflect on the many advancements in the management of diabetes, it’s hard to imagine that only 100 years ago there was little that could be done to help someone diagnosed with diabetes. Now, thanks to the tremendous strides in diabetes research, people living with diabetes can live full lives. The discovery of insulin has made diabetes a chronic – rather than fatal – condition, but we also know that insulin alone is not the answer to all the complexities which come with it. In clinical practice, I have seen firsthand how many still struggle with monitoring their blood sugar levels, logging their insulin use, recording their food intake and daily activities, all crucial steps to ensuring proper management of their diabetes.
In fact, a national survey released in October of 2020 – conducted by the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists (ADCES) in collaboration with Sanofi – revealed the struggles people with diabetes face, specifically in tracking their health data. Of the 700 survey participants – all of whom live with diabetes – more than two-thirds felt guilty for not doing more to manage their diabetes, and nearly as many reported either being too busy to log and/or forgetting to log their insulin use.
Even though many of the survey participants expressed self-guilt for not doing enough to manage their diabetes, nearly all participants recognized how important it was to properly manage their condition, including tracking their insulin use. Patients are using a wide variety of tools people use to track their diabetes data, including using apps, computers and even paper notebooks to record their information. The increasing use of connected glucose monitoring devices, especially continuous glucose monitoring systems, represents a significant step towards simplifying data-tracking for people living with diabetes and their care takers. Not surprisingly 80% of survey respondents believed that the use of technology – particularly technology that is able to automatically track and record insulin use – would be helpful in better managing their diabetes.
In our increasingly interconnected world, technology will be key to streamlining diabetes care and easing the burden of the disease for those living with it. Wirelessly connected devices and related apps, along with other technological advancements, can bridge a care gap, by both facilitating diabetes self-management and more effectively connecting people with diabetes to their healthcare professionals. As a clinician who has seen and treated countless people living with diabetes, I believe that the most successful technology is something that takes away the need for people to constantly think – or worry – about their condition and allows them to live a life unburdened by diabetes and its complications.
Although the emergence of tech solutions in healthcare has been accelerating, the potential benefits of seamlessly integrating connected devices has yet to be fully recognized. Now more than ever, we collectively recognize the need to develop and implement technology that can make meaningful strides and improvements in diabetes management. While we’ve come so far over the last 100 years, the integration of technology in diabetes management represents the next breakthrough I am excited to witness.
We are in a transformative era for diabetes management. With technology, I’m very hopeful that there will come a day when people living with diabetes feel their disease is something they live with and not a condition that controls their lives.
You can learn more about the ADCES data mentioned above here.