By Luke Smith, Writer and Researcher
Managing diabetes can be a cumbersome burden for many due to multiple daily injections and blood sugar tests. Life with diabetes has become significantly easier over the years, however, thanks to advancements in technology and treatment. Even today, progress is being made towards making diabetes more manageable. The modern era is seeing unprecedented technological and medical advancements, and those living with diabetes are reaping the rewards.
When it comes to medical technology, data is quite possibly the most important asset available. Whether contributing to a patient’s Electronic Health Record(EHR), improving population health, or helping diabetes patients better understand their needs in real-time, data is driving much of the progress seen in medicine today. However, data needs context in order to be useful to patients and providers. Fortunately, the secret to understanding health data regarding diabetes might be charging on the nightstand.
Smartphones are now nearly ubiquitous across the country, and as the years go by, they become more and more powerful. It makes sense, then, that these powerful pieces of technology are being adapted into diabetes management tools. Mobile health technology empowers patients by allowing them to monitor their own health at home continuously, providing a more clear and comprehensive view of how diabetes is affecting them and what measures need to be taken at any given time.
Using mobile technology to track and monitor diabetes isn’t just benefiting patients. The health data generated on a patient’s phone can be easily transferred to their EHR to add even more comprehensive data that physicians don’t have access to unless patients are being monitored at the hospital. EHRs have been shown to be incredibly beneficial to patient outcomes, and additional patient-provided data could further bolster that effect.
In many ways, it seems as though the future of diabetes medicine is already here today. Advancements in telehealth allow doctors to treat vulnerable populations regardless of proximity, and new medications are being developed regularly to help patients better manage their diabetes. The advancement of diabetic care is continuing to push forward in many novel ways that might have seemed, at one point, to have been relegated to the world of science fiction.
For instance, while smartphones can assist in the monitoring of diabetes for patients, wearable technology is taking things even further. Smartwatches, like the Apple Watch, have long been touted as an inventive wearable technology that can help users (and entire families) manage and improve their own health. Up to now, wearable health tech has been capable of monitoring very basic statistics such as steps moved and heart rate, but soon there could be further advancements in technology that would allow this tech to perform many more functions.
Apple is serious about pushing the Apple Watch to become an invaluable health tool in the coming years. The tech giant has taken a vested interest in diabetes management and is looking into technology that would allow its smartwatches to continuously monitor user’s glucose levels in a contactless method. The idea would be to use light sensors to penetrate a user’s wrist and identify blood sugar molecules without having to actually puncture the skin for a blood sample. This would provide a huge amount of relief to many living with diabetes.
Diabetes remains a difficult condition to live with, but constant testing and self-administration of medicine through injection might soon one day be a distant memory. Technological advancements march steadily forward, promising a future wherein those living with diabetes aren’t any more hindered by the condition than those living without it.