Grab Diabetes by the Horns With Smart Tech

Technology is the tool people with diabetes and the people supporting them can use to enact change. Technology affords better patient-doctor connections, actionable data, and education, via remote patient monitoring and "instant" data transfer.
07/24/2015 04:36 pm ET Updated Jul 24, 2016

While diabetes afflicts 29 million Americans and costs the U.S. $245 billion in direct medical costs and reduced productivity, the larger crisis might be that 63 percent of Americans aren't aware of the growing cost or even the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. There is an astounding diabetes knowledge gap spanning both those living with diabetes and the general public regarding the costs and additional health risks associated with the disease. Diabetes is the seventh deadliest chronic disease in the U.S. and needs to be faced head-on. Health education is a vital tool that could help lead not only to better health management but, ultimately, also to reduced health costs.

Fortunately, technology is available to drive that change. New connected devices aiding in fitness, and now smart medical devices, are available to control a person's health. Here are three tips on how to use new technologies to help manage chronic diseases head on.

Connect and Manage. Use technology to manage your disease and connect with your doctor. There's been a longstanding lack of communication, but according to a recent Diabetes Awareness Index of those living with diabetes, the majority (58 percent) want to use technology in their dietary routines, and over a third trust technology to manage their chronic disease. By opening a new channel of communication through devices that keep medical professionals tuned into your health in real-time, both patients and their caregivers can be better aware of how to manage patient health. Instructions can be personalized and instantly integrated, messages can be relayed when needed and physicians can ensure their patients stay accountable to long-term health plans and goals.

Know Your Body, Know Your Data. Be aware of what your body tells you, as it's one of the most crucial aspects of handling a chronic disease. For example, the self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) is an easy task, yet one some patients skip or forget, even though it's an important measure for preventing hyper- or hypoglycemia. The logging and review of SMBG data can lead to adjustments in habits. These adjustments could prevent life-threatening complications down the road and take the guesswork out of the daily input by automating the process. By incorporating technology that monitors and shares health information, medical professionals can ensure that individual patient care can be adjusted quickly if readings drastically change.

Get Educated. Stay connected. If you are living with diabetes, it is critical to be proactive in maintaining good health. Be honest about how your body is doing so you can get the right care. Be on top of what is happening in diabetes and truly understand what it means to live with it. Knowledge is power. Connectivity and the resources new smart medical devices offer are easing the burden of overall diabetes management.

Technology is the tool people with diabetes and the people supporting them can use to enact change. Technology affords better patient-doctor connections, actionable data, and education, via remote patient monitoring and "instant" data transfer. It is in the prevention of diabetes complications, bolstering medical care efficiency, reducing the costs of health care, and, ultimately, in preventing Type 2 diabetes that the benefits of technology will be realized. And it is all possible!