A Simple Fix to a Complex Problem
Diabetes management company GlucoMe is using an everyday device to wrangle the pandemic-sized problem of diabetes care management.
- By David Kopf
- May 01, 2017
The best tool for managing a patients’ health might already be
sitting in their pocket. Such is the case for Israel-based GlucoMe, a company that is
trying to revolutionize diabetes care management through smartphones.
GlucoMe leverages iOS and Android phones to easily and simply get diabetes data from patients’ glucose monitors and insulin pens, and into a cloud-based management system.
Diabetic patients have been one group of patients that has been very familiar
with managing their conditions and treatments, but they have not had access to
the sorts of managed, connected care tools seen in some other care settings, such
as sleep. GlucoMe is trying to change that by using, of all things, patients’ smart
phones. Founded four years ago by CEO Yiftah Ben Aharon and board member
Dov Moran — a person best known for being the inventor of the USB flash drive
— GlucoMe approached the problem of managing an ubiquitous condition such as
diabetes by seeking out a tool that is equally ubiquitous.
“If you take a look worldwide, diabetes has become pandemic,” Ben Aharon explains. “The number of patients is constantly increasing, but the number of doctors, healthcare providers and nurses remains the same. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to stick to the current treatment model, where patients need to visit their physician every three months.”
In fact, that care model is getting unsustainable. Having patients meeting with a
specialist on a repeat basis creates unnecessary cost and prevents those specialists
from focusing on the patients who most need help, or empowering self-sufficient
patients to do an even better job managing their treatment. Change is needed.
A Three-Part Solution
So, Glucome came up with a three-part solution: tools for monitoring blood glucose
and insulin levels; a cloud-based management platform; and the everyday smart
phont to tie it all together.
The first part involves a highly simplified, yet accurate blood glucose monitor
and a wireless monitor that turns any leading insulin pen into an automatic intake
monitor. Both these devices connect with the users iOS or Android device using a
very unique approach: sound.
“We don’t use Bluetooth, WiFi, or cellular connectivity,” Ben Aharon says. “GlucoMe has a special protocol that we developed, where the hardware sensors communicate with audio connectivity. The device sends a signal, similar to Shazam. Then, in less than a second, the data is sent to the patient’s smartphone, using the phone’s microphone.
Ben Aharon notes that GlucoMe has tested the unique audio connectivity
approach in 1,260 scenarios at various noise levels and diverse environments, such
as office settings, concerts, restaurants, planes, trains and even the Great Outdoors,
and it has performed with 100 percent accuracy with no loss. It can work up to 10
feet and 90 dB noise levels. Moreover, the goal is to make this connectivity open.
“Obviously we don’t intend to develop all the sensors around the world,” Ben
Aharon says. ”So we can pick up and integrate data from all kinds of data sources
including other blood glucose meter pumps, continuous glucose monitors, etc. to
make sure that we have the right data in order to take the right decision.”
The next part is GlucoMe’s mobile app, which has two purposes: to transmit
patient data into GlucoMe’s cloud-based system to help physicians manage their
patients, and to provide patients with feedback and management tools so that they
can help track and manage their conditions, as well.
“Basically the patients are walking with the sensors and with the mobile applications,”
Ben Aharon says. “And once the data goes to the Cloud, then the magic
begins. Once you have data you can start working with it.
That’s where the third part, the cloud-based care management system, comes
into play. With that physicians have much more granular, and real-time feedback
on how patients are doing indivdually, and on an overall basis.
“We aggregate the data, then we provide the healthcare provider – be it a nurse, GP, endocrinologist or PCP – all the raw data,”Ben Aharon explains. “We don’t want them to have to spend too much time analyzing this data manually, so we provide all kinds of analytics, which point them in the right direction, making sure that they know exactly what needs to be done, and what needs to be known about any specific patient.”
“The most interesting part in our cloud-based system is that we actually provide treatment recommendation,” he continues. “We have a decision support system which analyzes the data, crunches the numbers, and provides the physician information such as which medication should be used by the specific patient, what the dosage should be, and when should the patient take the medication.”
While the system might make recommendations, it still provides the physician a total level of control. Doctors review the information to make the right decisions.
“The physician can drill down and see the reasoning behind every decision,” Ben Aharon says. “We place the physician as the gatekeeper. The system makes recommendations, but the healthcare providers have the ultimate say.”
In terms of availability, GlucoMe has a presence in Europe, Israel, Africa and
India. Where the United States is concerned, the company is conducting clinical
trials at the Rainier Clinic in Seattle, Wash., and Ben Aharon says that the company
intends to conduct additional trials in 2017, having just finalized the protocol for a
trial at John Hopkins that it plans to run during this year.
The company will continue trailing the system and working on FDA approval
during 2017 with the expectation of completing the FDA process by end of year so
that the system will be available in the U.S. market in early 2018, according to Ben
Aharon. Bearing that in mind, the company just named a North American executive
vice president and general manager (see “People in HME,” on page 13).
GlucoMe Diabetes Management
This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of HME Business.
David Kopf is the Editor of HME Business.