Although it might not seem like it today there will come a time when the coronavirus is a thing of the past and life will get back to normal or whatever normal is now. This happened after 9/11 and will happen again with the virus. However, 9/11 may have passed and life did get back to “normal” 9/11 lead to several structural and notable changes to our daily lives. Travel became more onerous, workplaces added security, video surveillance became commonplace, etc.
Each day it seems another conference is cancelled due to concerns over the virus. Here in the city of big shoulders already four major conferences have cancelled, and we all know that while its weeks away the annual ADA conference is scheduled to be here in June. Hopefully by then the situation will be under control and the conference will go on as scheduled but you just never know.
The virus is not just impacting conferences but how patients manage their diabetes. Stories have been popping up about patients hoarding drugs and supplies fearing that if the virus continues to get worse, they may not be able to get the drugs and supplies they use each and every day. As we noted Lilly issued a statement assuring patients and the medical community that insulin production will not be impacted by the virus and CVS has offered free home delivery for prescriptions.
Thanks to all the new whiz bang way cool toys that talk to the cloud patients are in much better shape to handle this situation. Thanks to this technology patients no longer have to visit their physician’s office to download glucose or pump data, this can all be done now via the cloud. Many of the coaching platforms are incorporating virtual physician visits into their platform something we believe would become more common going forward but will be accelerated thanks to the virus.
In an ironic way the coronavirus could well serve as the launching pad for virtualized diabetes management (VDM). Notice we did not say virtualized coaching as coaching implies that the patient needs and wants to be coached. While some patients are receptive to coaching, we believe the vast majority will prefer virtualized diabetes management (VDM) or what we would term as coaching lite or diabetes management on demand.
While companies like Livongo would like to everyone to think they have developed the secret sauce for diabetes management using their way cool whiz-bang artificial intelligence. Diabetes management for the majority of patients isn’t that complex and patients don’t need way cool whiz bang AI but some simple common sense. Yes are there times when patients have questions and/or concerns for sure. That’s the difference between VDM and coaching, with VDM the patient is PULLING the information with coaching it’s being pushed upon them whether they want it or not.
As CGM takes over as the standard for glucose measurement, as connected insulin pens and/or connected insulin pen cap covers become commonplace all this data will be sent to the cloud where it can be analyzed. The same is true for the new crop of smart insulin pumps. With VDM this information is not only stored and analyzed but it is then presented back to the patient in a format they are comfortable with, that they use when they want to use it.
This is a huge difference from what a company like Livongo is doing. Livongo believes the patients wants to be coached that they want to be told what to do and how to do it. VDM takes the opposite approach as it puts the patient in control. VDM is akin to Uber or Lyft used when needed. Should the patient wish to escalate the level of interaction with VDM they can be easily accommodated but it is their choice to do so, it is NOT forced upon them.
Looking towards the future several existing trends were already in place before the virus hit. There is a well-known shortage of both primary care physicians and endocrinologists. With their in-store clinics retail pharmacies were replacing many of the functions once done at a doctor’s office. Thanks to a growing group of apps virtual office visits are not just becoming common but also getting reimbursed.
It’s possible the coronavirus could serve as the event that brings VDM to the forefront. As we have noted many times is it really necessary for a patient to physically visit their physician? Yet we see the biggest difference being VDM gives the patient what they want, control over their diabetes management. They have access to help if they need it, but this “help” is not forced upon them. Just as they use Uber or Lyft when they need it VDM would operate the same way.
As Momma Kliff used to say just because you put food on the table doesn’t mean everyone is hungry and ready to eat.