More change on the way

More change on the way

Try and picture what it would look like if a patient could walk into their local Walgreens store and get a series of blood tests for under $10, have the results available that same day, results which are then emailed to the patient and the cost billed to the patients credit card. Even better think of what this world would be like if the these tests could be performed accurately with a miniscule amount of blood, blood which can be drawn not with a huge needle but a tiny finger stick similar to a conventional glucose test.

Well this is not some pipe dream or pie in the sky world as a privately held company called Theranos is about to turn this dream into reality. Back in September the company signed a deal with Walgreens, who as Diabetic Investor noted just yesterday, is moving deeper into the world of patient coaching.  To Walgreens the ability to gather critical patient data at an ultra-low cost with quick turnaround times could become a game changer. Armed with this data a Walgreens pharmacist has the ability to better counsel patients with the ultimate goal being keeping the patient loyal to Walgreens.

Another company that has the potential to make some headway is privately held GlycoMark which has a test which measures a patient’s glycemic variability. According to the company’s web site “The GlycoMark test gives you a view of your average two-week glucose peaks, to help you and your doctor better manage your diabetes.” Several studies have noted the importance of measuring glycemic variability as measuring a patient’s HbA1c doesn’t tell the whole story.

Now there will be some who say that the GlycoMark test really isn’t needed as this same information can be gathered from a patient’s glucose log book. Others will note the test isn’t needed as continuous glucose monitor gathers more than enough data to measure glycemic variability. Both views are accurate but fail to take into account the real world aspects of diabetes management. The simple fact is the majority of patients do not test their glucose levels regularly and fewer actually track this data. For most patients a conventional glucose test is a one and done event. Yes CGM’s are gaining traction in the market and have become a valuable tool but the harsh reality is like conventional BGM the majorities of patients don’t and won’t use a CGM.

Diabetic Investor is constantly fascinated with the many so-called experts in diabetes who believe that if glucose testing was more patient friendly or pain free patients would test more frequently. Diabetic Investor has never held this belief and has constantly noted the reason patients don’t test more is they don’t value the information provided by the test. This is the reason BGM companies target insulin using patients as they know these patients need this information so they can properly dose their insulin. While this is true several studies have shown even insulin using patients fail to test as frequently as they should.

What these so-called diabetes experts have consistently failed to understand is that the majority of patients want to live their lives with and not for their diabetes; that these patients want simple, cheap and fast solutions that fit within their already hectic lives. Diabetic Investor has always divided the diabetes market into three distinct patient populations, actively engaged patients, semi-engaged patients and totally disengaged patients. The majority of patients regardless of which therapy they follow fall into the semi-engaged category. It is this market segment of patients who know they need to manage their diabetes, who want simple, cheap and fast solutions.

Looking into the future the winners in the diabetes market will be companies who understand that managing diabetes is 24 hour a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year job. That the majority of patients in addition to managing their diabetes live in the real world and that as important as managing their diabetes is, it’s not always their top priority. These companies will understand that in addition to managing their diabetes more than likely these patients are also managing additional conditions such as cholesterol, high blood pressure, etc. Far too often companies in the diabetes market fail to grasp that diabetes isn’t the only condition these patients must manage.

The simple fact is when it comes to diabetes management the most effective tools will be ones which require the least amount of patient education and interaction. This is one of the reasons Diabetic Investor has always been somewhat skeptical of the many wall cool whiz technologies being developed, the problem isn’t that these technologies are not helpful, they are. The problem is they require way too much patient interaction, they add not distract from the job of managing diabetes. Is it any surprise that these way cool whiz bang technologies are embraced by patients who actively engaged with their diabetes management, these patients get it and will do the work necessary to manage their diabetes. Unfortunately the vast majority of patients aren’t actively engaged with their diabetes to them it’s just one more hassle they to deal with.

There’s an old saying that states; don’t get upset by the results you didn’t get with the work you didn’t do. Well for the majority of patients the diabetes the work load is just too burdensome, takes too much time, costs too much and fails to yield noticeable results. Diabetes is not like losing weights where a patient can actually see the results of their hard work.  For diabetes management to truly change patients need to understand that job of managing their diabetes is worth the effort. They need to see tangible results to reinforce the hard work they are putting in each and every day.

While the so-called diabetes experts hate to admit it, it’s time to lighten the work load for these patients.