17 June 2019

Empowering patients with pick and mix management tools

Whilst hybrid closed loop systems dominated the sessions and conference narrative at the American Diabetes Association (ADA) annual conference in San Francisco. The other big story was Medtronic and the company’s collaboration with non-profit data hub Tidepool. Could this announcement pave the way for how patients will self-manage their care of chronic diseases in the future?

Tidepool is developing an app called Loop which will serve as a platform allowing interoperability between various diabetes devices. This means that a patient can pick and mix the insulin delivery and glucose monitoring systems they want to use based on their desired lifestyle and what features are most important to them.

In diabetes there is already a history of company collaboration between insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring (CGMs). Dexcom, for example has partnerships to provide the CGM element for both Insulet’s Omnipod and Tandem’s t:slim proposed hybrid closed loop systems.

The true significance of the Medtronic collaboration is that it will give patients complete control over which devices they want to use, without compromise.

People with diabetes have been mixing and matching their device therapies for some time, with some even ‘hacking’ devices to create DIY closed loop systems. The FDA even issued a warning in May against people with diabetes building their own artificial pancreas systems after one patient suffered an accidental insulin overdose.

By companies following their customer’s lead and supporting their individual preferences this is truly patient centric care, a term which is thrown around a lot in MedDev and pharma.

Amongst chronic conditions diabetes is frequently both the innovator and an early adopter of patient empowering digital technology. Diabetes therapy and management is much more reliant on devices than some other chronic conditions such as RA where standard of care anti-TNF drug adalimumab has a therapy regimen of one injection every other week. However, there is certainly a case for empowering this type of patient population using self-management and symptom diary apps or wearable activity trackers. We hope that the Medtronic-Tidepool initiative is a indication of how patient self-management is evolving rather than an exception to the rule.