The CDC’s latest figures indicate 29.1 million people, or 9.3% of the U.S. population, are diabetic. In 2012 alone, they estimated the costs for those diagnosed with the disease surpassed $245 billion, which puts diabetes nearly $100 billion more than the cost of cancer care.
Dr. Brett Osborn, author of Get Serious: A Neurosurgeon’s Guide to Optimal Health and Fitness, says that “More than 30% of Medicare dollars are spent on diabetics and/or related complications.”
These astounding figures have caused researchers, scientists, and tech companies to look for new and more affordable ways to reduce the costs for patients, and the effects of the disease. Here’s a look at some of the ways new technology is helping doctors and patients alike.
Smart Contact Lenses from Google
The search engine giant isn’t content with just making its Google Glass wearable heads up computer. Their latest project, dubbed Smart Contact Lenses, aims to “measure glucose levels in tears using a tiny wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor that are embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material. We’re testing prototypes that can generate a reading once per second.” With that kind of data, you won’t have to stop and prick yourself, collect your blood on a strip, and test for results.
The Bionic Pancreas
The pancreas is the organ in your body responsible for regulating blood sugar. Researchers from Boston University have developed a manmade pancreas that adjusts every five minutes with new insulin and glucagon levels. It’s currently in testing with Type I diabetes patients at Massachusetts General Hospital. The system provides continuous glucose monitoring along with subcutaneous delivery of both rapid-acting insulin (to lower blood glucose) and glucagon (to raise blood glucose) as directed by a computer algorithm.
Smart Glucose Monitors
With all the computing power we carry in our pockets every day, it makes sense to put that to use instead of making you buy yet another device to test your blood-glucose levels. There are already numerous products on the market that connect to your smartphone, like the iBG Star for iPhone, that will give you readings on the fly. These gadgets can be had for under $75 in most cases, and some insurance companies are known to cover them.
These and other technologies are just the tip of the iceberg in helping treat and manage diabetes. As more data is collected and more tests completed, expect to see medical professionals, caregivers, and patients turn to technology to reduce the debilitating effects of diabetes.
Author – Mike Beauchamp