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What’s still missing in diabetes innovation (and it’s not apps or devices)

July 10, 2013 7:11 pm by | 0 Comments

Diabetes panel Converge

Of course the diabetes community would like to have a less invasive way to check blood sugar and self-administer insulin. Those things probably wouldn’t cut rates of diabetes and comorbidities at a population level, though, without some forward thinking in other areas of healthcare.

When an attendee at CONVERGE on Wednesday asked a panel of diabetes experts what’s hindering their ability to help patients help themselves, a few themes emerged:

Interoperability (yes, still)

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Dr. Rajni Anega, strategic executive and clinical transformation leader at Humana, recounted her days as an EVP at Joslin Diabetes Center, where care for diabetes patients was coordinated between endocrinologists, social workers, mental health professionals and dieticians. But in most places, that kind of care isn’t available. And where it is, Anega noted that the hurdle of sharing data among providers is still very much alive.

“We feel the secret is in the EMR data,” said Susan Harris, associate vice president of diabetes solutions at Sanofi Diabetes. “We’ve gotten people using EMR systems, but we’re nowhere near being able to pull that data out and make it actionable to be able to understand it at a PCP office or endocrinologist office.”

Smooth-flowing device data

Beyond that basic sharing of clinical data between care providers, Dr. Breanne Everett, president and CEO of Orpyx Medical Technologies said providers and patients also have to find a way to manage non-EMR data.

“There’s another layer to that in terms of all of these devices that are being created where the patient is driving collection of data on their own,” Everett said. In the past, patients have in a very patchwork way collected data [...] If you can create systems that can collect that data from multiple devices simultaneous and aggregate that data so it’s just a snapshot when the physician’s actually seeing the patient, that would make a huge difference.”

Patient support

Paul Sandberg, the CEO of software development firm PHRQL, added that there’s an additional support network and human element that is so important. “We know that regular interaction with that healthcare professional, the educator or the professional who can help with the behavioral intervention or the lifestyle counseling is one of the best predictors of good outcomes, and the system does not provide that,” he said.

An occupational therapist in the audience mentioned that plenty of providers like OTs could provide preventive and support services, but there’s no reimbursement for it at this point.

Sanofi recognizes that patient-to-patient support and encouragement is also important, Harris said, and the pharma company is innovating in that area as well. “Patients view other patients as the most credible source of information, so how do you mobilize that, scale it and really hook patients up together?”

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Deanna Pogorelc

By Deanna Pogorelc MedCity News

Deanna Pogorelc is a Cleveland-based reporter who writes obsessively about life science startups across the country, looking to technology transfer offices, startup incubators and investment funds to see what’s next in healthcare. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University and previously covered business and education for a northeast Indiana newspaper.
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