Will High Tech Save BGM?

Will High Tech Save BGM?

This morning there was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal entitled; “Diabetes Data Beamed To Your Phone.” In this article the author Walt Mossberg reviews two new devices the iHealth Wireless Smart Gluco-Monitoring System and the OneTouch VerioSync, two systems which transmit data to a patient’s smartphone. Mossberg has also reviewed the TelCare system which transmits data from their meter to the cloud.  The theory behind these systems and the many copycats sure to come is that by making it easy for the patient to transmit their data to a smartphone or the cloud, this information can then also be easily shared with their healthcare team who in turn armed with this information can better assist the patient in managing their diabetes; the ultimate goal being better overall patient outcomes.

Now regular readers of Diabetic Investor know that we have long held that while there is great deal of value in systems such as these, what looks good in theory doesn’t always work in the real world. Yes it is true that by simplifying the data transmission process these systems make life easier for the patient. And it is also true that once this data is stored in the patient’s smartphone or on the cloud it can easily share with the patient’s healthcare team. Yet the question is will patient’s be willing to pay extra for this advanced technology or put another way can these advanced more costly systems thrive in what has become a commodity market?

Also lost in this discussion is how the patient’s healthcare team is compensated for their role in the process. It’s important to note that while glucose readings are important these data points are just one piece of a complex puzzle when it comes to diabetes management. Food intake, stress and medication compliance are just some the additional pieces of this complex puzzle that ultimately determines patient outcomes. Analyzing a patient’s diabetes management solely on glucose readings is like a football coach analyzing last week game film by only watching offensive plays, it just doesn’t tell the whole story.

For years Diabetic Investor has held that the reason the majority of patients fail to monitor their glucose readings as frequently as they should is not due to the so-called pain associated with the testing process, rather that patients don’t understand what these data points mean and don’t understand how to translate this information into an action step. Simply put the data gathered has no value to the patient.  Diabetic Investor fails to see how making it easier for the patient to transmit data will change this fact.

This is not to say there is no market for these systems as there are patients who are diligent about testing their glucose levels and who do understand the value of these data points. However, for the majority of patients who want to live their lives with their diabetes and not for their diabetes this technology why way cool has little value. It’s not that these patients are ignoring their diabetes rather they want their diabetes management to fit within their lifestyles. They want their diabetes management simplified and view all this data analytics as too complex to understand.

The fact is for the majority of patients they will use any meter as long as it covered by their insurance plan. Yes there is a minority of patients who are loyal to a particular product but again this is a small minority. So again the question has to be asked can these advanced more costly systems survive in commodity market where price trumps performance?