More Technology Patients Won’t Use
This morning Home Diagnostics (NASDAQ:HDIX) announced that their TRUEtrack® and TRUEread™ blood glucose meters will operate on Microsoft HealthVault. HealthVault is a online service that allows users to store and manage their health records without paying a fee. These records can then be shared with a patients physician or healthcare team.
As it stands today nearly every glucose meter has the ability to download readings to software provided by the manufacturer. There are also other programs available where a patient can only download their meter readings but their food intake, medications, exercise, etc. The hope is by having all this information the patients healthcare team can assist the patient in better managing their diabetes.
To Diabetic Investor this announcement from HDI is just another example of how everyone is fascinated with technology and fails understand the realities of the marketplace. First and foremost these programs make the assumption that patients are actually checking their glucose levels. A very bad assumption as the majority of patients rarely check their levels and a high percentage don’t check at all. Next your asking the patient to add one more task to their diabetes management. While downloading information from a meter is not a complex task there is some effort needed, to our knowledge there is no meter that has automated this task.
Even if you have a motivated patient who is willing to regularly check their glucose levels and then download this information, this information by itself only provides a partial picture of what’s going on. For this information to be truly useful the patient also most record meal information, medications, exercise, etc. While this task is easier for an insulin pump patient, it’s difficult to imagine a type 2 patient taking oral medications recording all this information and then entering it all into their computer.
Should you have a really motivated patient who checks their levels regularly, downloads readings, basically keeps a diary of everything they do and then enters this information to the software which is then shared with the patient’s healthcare team, what then? More importantly who will pay for the time it takes a physician to analyze the data and then make recommendations?
What about patient privacy? How does the patient know that this very personal information is not being shared? Everyone has heard of stories of hackers breaking into systems and stealing credit card information.
Let’s assume that a patient goes through all this work and their healthcare team provides recommendations that could lead to improved outcomes; will the patients see any tangible benefits? Diabetes is not like a headache or a fever where the patient feels better after treatment. Getting a patient under control takes time and effort. It is quite possible that even with all this intervention and advice the patient may not see any tangible results for months.
Instead of adding to the patients workload with all this fancy technology why not provide patients with access to educational tools that they can use at their own pace. While Diabetic Investor is aware of several studies that demonstrate the value of educating patients, we have yet to find one that proves fancy technology leads to better outcomes. In spite of this fact glucose monitoring companies continue to come out with these fancy systems that apply a minority of patients.
Finally it should be noted that the technological innovations that have actually increased sales are ones that have made checking glucose levels easier. A perfect example of this are the Bayer meters, the Breeze and Contour, which do not require coding. This innovation had a true impact on the patient and actually made their lives easier. Although this is not the sole reason Bayer is gaining market share it is a contributing factor. Perhaps the other players in the marketplace will learn from Bayer and begin to make the patient’s life easier instead of adding to their already demanding diabetes management regimen.