The future of diabetes care with a user-centered approach
15 August 2022
MedTech Navigator’s “The Future of Diabetes Care” seminar highlighted that whilst developments in the treatment of diabetes have been extraordinary there is still huge demand for further innovation. In particular, user centric solutions are needed to reduce the burden of this relentless condition.
Springboard recently attended the seminar at the The Moller Institute in Cambridge. It was an excellent event full of illuminating talks from those on the frontline treating diabetes, innovative players in the industry and a humbling insight from the parent of a diabetic child.
Despite focusing on the future of diabetes, it was impossible to ignore just how much technological progress has been made in the treatment of diabetes. For instance, user centered design of cutting edge hybrid closed loop control systems are now available from several manufacturers. These systems combine continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) by small body worn sensors, with insulin pumps and a control algorithm (on a separate device, the pump or phone) to automatically adjust insulin delivery to achieve tight blood sugar level control. However, the patient is still required to manually programme a bolus of insulin prior to meals based on the carbohydrate count about to be consumed.
However, whilst technological advancements are materialising, more innovation is certainly needed.
Diabetes is a relentless disease.
Research suggests that people living with type 1 diabetes make up to an astonishing 180 health related decisions per day1 – no doubt experiencing decision fatigue. To make matters worse there are at least 42 factors that are known to affect blood glucose and many of these are difficult to measure in isolation without even considering their interactions. This was perhaps best summed up by Liz Parraudin of Diabetes UK highlighting one of the most common questions their organisation receives: “Why is it always a battle?”.
There are many advancements that are still needed. Faster acting insulin could one day facilitate fully closed loop blood sugar control. More research into diabetes and complications experienced by ethnic minority groups must become a higher priority. To give just one of many stark statistics the American Diabetes Association reports that “African Americans are at least 2.6 times more likely to have end stage renal disease due to diabetes than Caucasians.”2
However, focusing on the universal burden experienced by diabetic patients there are clear routes to improvement:
- Better access to the latest technology advances such as closed loop hybrid control with current costs a significant problem.
- Further advancements to minimise the invasion into patients’ lives: miniaturisation of pumps, less user steps, more intuitive user interfaces, more discreet devices inclusive of all ethnic groups, longer periods without intervention (typically CGMs are replaced every 10 days and canulars every 3 days) and less waste.
There is hope, many of the problems identified above can be addressed with innovative, user-centered design. Springboard are experts in regulated product development and a highly flexible working partner. If you would like to get in touch to find out more please contact us.
 Erin Digitale Scopeblog Stanford. [2017-11-29]. New research keeps diabetics safer during sleep http://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2014/05/08/new-research-keeps-diabetics-safer-during-sleep/ webcite.
Written by Sam Johnstone