Smartphone-powered bionic pancreas outperforms traditional diabetes pump

A wearable, automated bionic pancreas, created using an iPhone 4S and a G4 Platinum continuous glucose monitor and a software algorithm, outperformed a traditional insulin pump approach in a study on adolescent and adult diabetic monitoring published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Using a custom hardware interface, the device provided participants with real-time glucose monitoring, as well as insulin and glucose doses administered by infusion pumps controlled wirelessly by the smartphone. During the study, patients provided insight on food intake, using descriptors such as "small bite" or "dinner" and the system then adapted insulin dosing.

The study, "Outpatient Glycemic Control with a Bionic Pancreas in Type 1 Diabetes," focused on the safety and effectiveness of automated glycemic management under unrestricted outpatient conditions.

"As compared with an insulin pump, a wearable, automated, bihormonal, bionic pancreas improved mean glycemic levels, with less frequent hypoglycemic episodes, among both adults and adolescents with Type 1 diabetes mellitus," the study's authors concluded. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, as well as other organizations, funded the research.

The mHealth monitoring and diagnostic medical device segment is predicted to be a $8.03 billion market, with an annual growth rate of 43.3 percent from 2014 through 2019, according to a recent Transparency Market Research report. What's more, as FierceMobileHealthcare has reported, mobile monitoring of diabetic employees can save more than $3,000 a year in healthcare costs, half of the average annual medical insurance cost for workers diagnosed with diabetes.

Yet such devices face a few hurdles. A pilot study on whether mobile apps can help diabetics better monitor and track vision changes revealed more work needs to be done in incorporating mHealth technology into diabetic patient care, and a need for better self-vision testing apps. The research explored the use of the free app SightBook to engage patients in their own healthcare, record diabetes self-management, and boost communication between patients and physicians.

For more information:
- read the study

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