For patients with chronic conditions, simply seeing a doctor once every three months for about ten minutes per visit is insufficient to provide the care and support needed for proper disease management. Within that timeframe, a patient’s conditions needs to be reassessed and the care plan updated to reflect the patient’s changing, dynamic disease state. Israel-based digital health company GlucoMe is trying to tackle these challenges from both the patient and healthcare professional perspectives. Combining hardware and software tools on the patient side with a Digital Diabetes Clinic for payers and providers, GlucoMe aims to ensure patients are receiving the right care at the right time. Medgadget had a chance to sit down with GlucoMe Founder and CEO Yiftah Ben Aharon to learn more.
Mike Batista, Medgadget: Diabetes management and monitoring is a huge problem around the world. What brought the challenges of diabetes management to you and your team’s attention and how did that translate into creating the GlucoMe platform?
Yiftah Ben Aharon, GlucoMe: We developed the GlucoMe platform in response to a very real need to make diabetes management simpler for patients, caregivers and doctors. Diabetes is a daily part of life for millions of people the world over. For patients, there’s always so much to think about and to remember to do in order to manage their condition. For them, we set out to help lower the burden of diabetes monitoring and improve compliance with on-hand treatment plans and progress reports.
With the volume of diabetes patients ever increasing, we set out to develop a platform that enables medical professionals to provide more efficient care, and reinforce self-care behavior – with less overhead and greater insights.
Many diabetes patients see their doctor once every two or three months – sometimes even less – for a 10-minute consultation, in which time the doctor must review the patients’ recent history and update the treatment plan. In developing the GlucoMe solution, we decided to develop an algorithm-based platform that changes the way medical teams and patients work together.
We saw the need to close the treatment loop between patient and doctor in light of the insufficient time that patients have to communicate with their doctors/caregivers as well as the lack of real-time data and data analysis enabling doctors to provide the right treatment plans and to see the right patients at the right time.
Medgadget: Are there any unique challenges to managing diabetes in Israel, where your company is based?
Ben Aharon: Challenges in Israel are no different to other countries around the world. Diabetes is a pandemic affecting all communities and lifestyles.
In Israel today, there are some 460,000 people with diabetes (about 8.5% of the population), and the numbers continue to rise each year. Israel’s healthcare organizations are among the most advanced in the world, but they too have to cope with the pandemic as all developed countries must.
The GlucoMe platform is designed so that it can be seamlessly integrated into any healthcare system in any location.
Medgadget: What is included in the GlucoMe platform?
Ben Aharon: The GlucoMe platform is a comprehensive digital diabetes solution that includes:
- a wireless Blood Glucose Monitor;
- a wireless Insulin Pen Monitor;
- a Mobile App for Android or iOS (free to download from the Google Play or Apple Store);
- and a cloud-based Digital Diabetes Clinic for healthcare professionals providing both personalized treatment plans and population management tools
Medgadget: How does GlucoMe work? What is the patient’s user experience when interacting with the platform?
Ben Aharon: The wireless GlucoMe Blood Glucose Monitor measures and seamlessly communicates blood glucose data to any iOS or Android mobile device. It is simple to use – the data is transmitted to the smartphone using a patented acoustic technology so that users do not need to press any buttons or rely on wires or communication protocols such as Wi-Fi, cellular data, or Bluetooth. This ensures that reliable health information is available to patients and caregivers via the GlucoMe Mobile App and to medical professionals via GlucoMe’s cloud-based Digital Diabetes Clinic.
Using the wireless Insulin Pen Monitor, compatible with all leading insulin pen brands, the user’s insulin intake information is automatically transferred to their mobile device and the information is added to the personal diabetes management data in the GlucoMe Mobile App.
The GlucoMe Mobile App is the patient’s personalized diabetes management companion, and we have designed it to facilitate clinical improvement and better overall patient health. The app collects clinical information automatically and securely transmits it in real time for cloud-based analysis. The user’s diabetes management history and information are displayed clearly, making it simple to follow. Patients can check compliance with the treatment plan prescribed by their medical professionals on the app, and receive up-to-the-minute dosage notifications and delivery time alerts.
We have developed the GlucoMe Mobile App to be highly intuitive and practical, so that nothing needs to be remembered, calculated, written down or typed in manually. The app syncs automatically to the cloud-based Digital Diabetes Clinic to ensure effective treatment and reinforce healthy self-care behavior.
Medgadget: Is GlucoMe free for patients to sign-up or do I need a referral from a doctor?
Ben Aharon: We expect and intend GlucoMe to be reimbursable. Currently, we are marketing our platform to HMOs, hospitals, and clinics for integration with personalized health systems, which we believe are the future of medicine. Healthcare organizations can then enable their diabetes patients to better manage their condition more simply from home.
Medgadget: How does GlucoMe work from the healthcare professional’s perspective?
Ben Aharon: Our cloud-based Digital Diabetes Clinic (DDC) is designed for healthcare professionals. All of the data from the patient’s GlucoMe app is automatically uploaded to the cloud, analyzed and shared with their medical professionals. The GlucoMe DDC enables medical professionals to remotely monitor patients and adjust treatment plans between physical visits.
The DDC provides individual-level patient usage, adherence and treatment effectiveness snapshots, as well as global population, clinic, and patient group management reports. This gives medical professionals unequalled big data insights into real-life patient behavior patterns. Along with population management, GlucoMe enables digital or face-to-face intervention for the right patients at the right time. This saves time and money for both healthcare providers and payers.
The GlucoMe DDC can integrate into EHR systems or work independently at clinics where no EHR is used.
Medgadget: Do you see a changing paradigm in healthcare as a result of opportunities in digital health?
Ben Aharon: The current care model, in which patients are required to visit a physician every two or three months for a 10-minute visit, simply does not scale. There are too many patients and too few healthcare professionals. Using our Digital Diabetes Clinic, both payers and providers can make sure that the right patients will get the right treatment at the right time by the right healthcare professional.
Medgadget: There are a number of diabetes management devices and apps on the market today. What makes GlucoMe unique?
Ben Aharon: I believe what makes us unique is that we are closing the diabetes treatment loop between patients and doctors at a time when home and digital health management is key for healthcare efficiency and efficacy. For us, the hardware is part of a comprehensive solution, an enabler for a full treatment cycle. The cloud-based system is designed to give patients real support on the individual level and to support medical professionals and payers in approaching population management.
Harnessing the reliable data from the blood glucose and insulin pen monitors, as well as the algorithm-based data analysis, doctors will have simple access to more patient data than ever before – and the tools to communicate with their patients more efficiently and effectively. The Digital Diabetes Clinic will give doctors a better snapshot of what their individual patients need, and the information will go a long way in providing the proper medical treatments.
In addition, the vast array of data we collect from these individual patients will give medical professionals unparalleled big data insights into worldwide patterns and treatment strategies.
Medgadget: What stage is GlucoMe at today? Are there already patients using the technology? Does it have a CE Mark or FDA Approval?
Ben Aharon: GlucoMe received its CE Mark. We are currently awaiting FDA approval in the Unites States, which we are expecting in 2017.
Medgadget: What’s next for GlucoMe? Are there any big milestones coming up on the company’s roadmap?
Ben Aharon: We will continue expanding sales at a number of sites around the world, including Latin America, Africa and Germany, advance our work in Israel, and begin activity in the US