Here we go again
Today Johnson and Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) is holding their Medical Device and Diagnostic Business Review and as expected their diabetes care unit got its fair of attention. While there was really nothing unexpected the company did introduce their latest glucose monitor, the OneTouch® Verio Sync. As the name implies the Sync will wirelessly transmit readings to the way cool iPhone.
Note that unlike the iBGStar from Sanofi (NYSE:SNY) which has to be attached to the way cool iPhone to transmits its readings, the Sync does so without being attached and therefore does not make the product subject to the whims of Apple who decided to change the connector port on the new iPhone 5 which has basically killed any chance the iBGStar had to be successful. So chalk one up for JNJ as they finally figured out what everyone else knew and that wireless is the way to go.
The only problem is JNJ didn’t go far enough and is making the same mistake Sanofi made, in that, they are ignoring the growing number of patients who do not have an iPhone and are using an Android device. Based on a wide variety of sources there are approximately 150 million consumers using some sort of device powered by Android, and 650,000 new users are being added each day. Now we realize that Android devices may not be way cool but where else but the wacky world of diabetes devices would companies basically ignore such a large and growing market?
Perhaps privately held TelCare, which is becoming that little glucose monitoring that could, has it right as their device is basically a cellphone which does everything but actually make a phone call. The TelCare device actually has a SIM chip built into the meter which then transmits each reading to the TelCare web portal, or to another person’s mobile device. The big problem facing TelCare is the same problem facing anyone new in the BGM space, gaining enough share to become profitable or attractive to one of the bigger players who would then buy the company. It also doesn’t help that the TelCare device is expensive and a little clunky to use, two things that would likely change if the company were to be acquired.
Diabetic Investor actually believes the ultimate solution lies somewhere between the Sync and TelCare. The Sync brings with it a solid design, ease of use and wireless data transmission. TelCare brings with it the use of Cloud computing allowing for greater data access whether it is a parent or healthcare professional that sees the data. What both systems do is bring us one step closer to the world of interconnected diabetes management; a world which one day when fully developed won’t carry any restrictions based on which mobile platform the consumer choses, Apple or Android.
The fact is interconnected diabetes management will become the cornerstone of diabetes management once physicians and payors are incentivized for helping patients achieve better overall outcomes. Something that is becoming more and more real with the Affordable Care Act which actually encourages the use of incentivizes. Yet the Affordable Care Act is just the beginning as employers have recognized the devastating impact poorly controlled diabetes can have on their workforce not to the mention the additional healthcare costs which result from poorly controlled diabetes.
Let’s not stop there as there is one more major factor as to why interconnected diabetes management will become commonplace and it has nothing to do with technology. Baby Boomers are becoming Medicare eligible, one in three children will develop diabetes and there are another 60 to 70 million people who have pre-diabetes that will likely develop into full blown diabetes, in other words demographics will drive this change; demographics and the fact that if any company can tie interconnected diabetes management to better overall outcomes they will make a fortune.
This is the hidden and overlooked piece of information that is really the key to interconnected diabetes management. The simple fact is the technology for interconnected diabetes management already exists today and while not perfect isn’t that difficult to use. The keys to the kingdom will belong to any company that can actually convince patients to monitor their glucose on a regular basis and provide these same patients with the tools they need to better use this information. Information that is not just actionable but appeals directly to the patient as it will help the patient better manage their diabetes.
The time has come for people to realize that in the future, a future where there will be fewer primary care physicians and endocrinologists, that patient will become more responsible for their diabetes management. The role of the physician will change as there will be fewer office visits yet greater electronic communication. Communication which will be aided by the data exchanged between the physician and the patient who’s using the interconnected device.
The future is right around the corner and the sooner diabetes device companies’ wake up to the fact that Android, which is backed by Google and IOS which is backed by Apple, will likely coexist well into the future and devices MUST communicate seamlessly with either operating system, the better.