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Tech collaboration seeks to personalize diabetes care


IBM and Medtronic are teaming up to create new personalized diabetes management solutions.

IBM and Medtronic will partner to combine analytics and cognitive computing with diabetes medical devices and health data to develop a new generation of personalized diabetes management solutions.

Patients using Medtronic diabetes solutions could benefit from new solutions developed in collaboration with IBM’s newly formed Watson Health unit. With diabetes device data continuously gathered and analyzed in real-time, information can be anonymously combined with other sources of data such as electronic medical records, health insurance claims, and population health data to identify patterns and predict health risks using advanced analytics models.

BrulsAnnette Bruls, vice president and general manager of Diabetes Services and Solutions unit at Medtronic Diabetes, says that the collaboration with IBM will explore three areas:

  • Integrated care

The companies will work together to identify the most at-risk patient populations. 

“This could be patients who have been admitted to the emergency room for a hypoglycemic event, and are likely to return again in 30 days; or it could be a type 2 patient who has failed their diet and exercise regimen and has progressed to requiring oral medication to manage their diabetes,” Bruls says. “From there and with the help of select healthcare provider partners and IBM, we will develop the protocols to monitor the patients with our technologies and intervene at the right moment, with the right therapies so that we can improve outcomes and lower cost.”

  • Algorithm enhancement

“We plan to use Watson’s machine-learning capabilities to take our artificial pancreas algorithm to new heights,” Bruls says. “IBM’s capabilities can help us and our partners develop closed-loop algorithms that can interpret more data, faster to provide a more personalized, seamless approach for each patient."

  • Care plans

The partnership seeks to leverage real-time continuous glucose monitoring data and other data sources together with informatics and analytics capabilities to support intelligent decision making at the time the decision needs to be made and derived.

“This will lead to enhanced decision support tools and personalized care plans for patients and their healthcare providers,” Bruls says. “This can be for both type 1 and type 2 patients.

Related:Managing Type 2 Diabetes: How to reach your patients

“Some of the diabetes care management solutions we will design . . .will help physicians and managed care decision makers to identify the patients with the highest risks and optimize patient outcomes and health economics,” she adds.


NEXT: Devices and integrated care together


With data from Medtronic insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring systems constantly gathered and analyzed in real-time, such device data can be securely and anonymously combined with numerous other sources of data such as electronic medical records, health insurance claims and population health data to uncover patterns and predict health risks using advanced analytics models.

Bruls adds that the Medtronic-IBM partnership will also benefit physicians, providing "decision support … with the goal to optimize treatment.

“Using these types of critical insights from a volume of sources will help transform diabetes care by changing the way diabetes is managed today. A diabetes personalized care plan is a tool usually developed between a patient and his or her healthcare provider. It takes into account the many challenging issues that can impact day-to-day management of the condition, such as meals, exercise, stress and changing schedules, so blood sugar levels don’t get too high or too low,” Bruls says.

Related:EHRS found to reduce prescribing problems in patients with diabetes

Bruls also acknowledges that devices along aren't enough to truly manage diabetes.

“We believe that true transformation will require an integrated care approach. Integrated care is about world-class patient management, enabled by leading technologies, big data, and informatics. It’s about providing actionable insights and decision support to all stakeholders at the time the decision needs to be made. This is crucial for a chronic disease such as diabetes, where the patient has to make most of the decisions on his own and only has access to a healthcare provider at discreet moments in time. Having a dynamic care plan and real-time information and recommendations that have been established together with the [provider] can greatly support the patient in the management of diabetes and help achieve better outcomes.”

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