New advancements in diabetes care
October 31, 2023
For business owners, plan administrators, and sponsors
Pavithra Ravinatarajan is a practicing pharmacist and Director, Strategy and Key Accounts, for Manulife Group Benefits.
There has been a lot of innovation over the years, from glucose test strips to artificial pancreas systems. The advancements continue to help people to manage diabetes and encourage them to be proactive in their care.
As technology advances diabetes care, it is giving more control to those with the condition and lessening the daily self-care responsibilities.2
Monitoring glucose levels
Since the mid-1800s, researchers have been looking for ways to easily assess glucose levels.3 Before blood sugar tests, people with diabetes checked their sugar levels by testing their urine with a tablet that changed colour.3
In the 1960s, doctors developed a fingerstick test to check sugar levels in their office, improving the process.4 Then, in the 1980s, people could finally test their blood sugar at home using a blood sugar meter.4
Continuous blood glucose monitors
A small sensor is inserted into the person’s skin, which relays information to a monitoring device, such as a smartphone.5 This allows the user to monitor blood sugar throughout the day and could help to keep their blood sugar levels in a healthy range.5
There could be health benefits if glucose monitors or CGM systems can increase adherence to blood sugar monitoring. Keeping blood sugar levels in the recommended range greatly reduces the risk of developing problems like retinopathy.6 Retinopathy is a condition that can cause vision loss.6
People with diabetes should aim to keep their blood sugar levels in the recommended range to prevent these problems.5 Some studies have found that people with diabetes can better manage their blood sugar when monitoring them is easier.6
Artificial pancreas systems
In the early 2000s, the first artificial pancreas systems, also known as closed-loop systems, were developed.7 Artificial pancreas systems are made up of three parts that work together to mimic a functioning pancreas.8
The parts include:
- A continuous glucose monitor to track blood sugar levels,
- A device or an app on a smartphone for monitoring the data,
- And an insulin pump to deliver insulin as needed throughout the day.8
Artificial pancreas systems automate blood sugar control, easing the burden of managing chronic conditions and helping to improve overall health.8
Smart insulin pens
Smart insulin pens are another emerging trend in diabetes care.8 They provide a more precise and convenient way for people to manage their insulin levels when doing insulin injections.9 Unlike traditional insulin pens, smart insulin pens wirelessly connect with a mobile app.9
The technology can monitor and change insulin levels in real-time and could help reduce the risk of dangerous highs and lows.9 These smart pens not only simplify insulin management and enhance precision, but they’re able to provide the user with valuable data-backed insights to better manage their condition.9
The socks are embedded with sensors that can monitor the temperature and moisture levels of the feet, which are critical indicators of possible foot problems.11 The socks transmit real-time data to healthcare providers to alert them of potential problems before they become serious.10
Apps for diabetes management
Smartphones are something many people have access to, and they are increasingly being used as tools for diabetes management.11 The latest apps can help people with counting carbohydrates, tracking insulin doses, or monitoring blood sugar.11
Some apps even allow the user to share their health data with their doctor or medical team which could help them monitor the condition and make changes to treatment plans.11
The future of diabetes care and management
There is some research that suggests genetic testing could play a role in the future of diabetes treatment.13 Gene mutations have been found that could help doctors treat the condition.13 Genetic testing could also detect someone’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes so they can begin taking preventative measures.13
In the future, patient empowerment will become even more critical in managing and treating diabetes effectively.14 Giving people the information and tools they need to better care for themselves will continue to improve health outcomes and lives.14
These advancements in diabetes care are helping people with diabetes to monitor and manage their condition more effectively than ever before.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on how new, innovative technologies are shaping the future of diabetes care.
Diabetes care and your Manulife Group Benefits Plan
For more information about diabetes care and what’s included in your Manulife Group Benefits plan, contact your usual representative.
Disclaimer: This article is meant for general information only. It is not intended to replace the advice of your medical doctor.
1 https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/framework-diabetes-canada.html , 2022
2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6351708/#:~:text=Technology%20solutions%20offer%20opportunities%20to,achieving%20glycemic%20control%20beyond%20HbA1c. , 2019
3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538968/ , 2018
4 https://www.healthcentral.com/condition/diabetes/continuous-glucose-monitoring , 2022
5 https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/11444-glucose-continuous-glucose-monitoring#:~:text=CGM%20is%20a%20tool%20for,any)%20of%20the%20hormone%20insulin. , 2021
6 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5801231/, 2018
7 https://www.e-dmj.org/journal/view.php?doi=10.4093/dmj.2021.0177 , 2021
8 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7673768/#:~:text=justify%20our%20confusions.-,Conclusion,the%20topic%20of%20intense%20discussion. , 2020
9 https://www.diabeteseducator.org/danatech/insulin-medicine-delivery/insulin-medicine-delivery-101/smart-pens-in-diabetes-management , 2022
10 https://diabetes.org/tools-support/devices-technology/smart-insulin-pen#:~:text=The%20first%20Food%20and%20Drug,the%20app%20via%20Bluetooth%20connection. , 2023
11 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8924773/#:~:text=Various%20technologies%20have%20been%20developed,data%20with%20health%20care%20professionals. , 2022
12 https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/top-iphone-android-apps#our-picks , 2022
13 https://www.news-medical.net/health/Genetic-Testing-for-Diabetes.aspx#:~:text=Analysis%20of%20the%20genetic%20predisposition,development%20of%20type%202%20diabetes. , 2022
14 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6689555/ , 2019