Throughout most industries, the key to success is innovation.
Industries and companies that don’t innovate or usher in new technologies are ultimately left in the dust. For example, Blockbuster failed to see Netflix and other streaming services as a serious threat, which would ultimately cost them everything. Although Bend, Oregon is home to the very last Blockbuster, still open to this day!
While Blockbuster’s unfortunate demise only affected the company and its employees, there are some industries where failure to innovate can have an even larger impact.
The healthcare industry is one such area in which innovation is key—not only for the companies that operate in this sphere but for the patients and customers they serve.
Today, we’re specifically focusing on innovations and technologies to look for within the diabetes care industry. Innovation within this area of the healthcare industry is important for two reasons.
First, diabetes care technology needs to continue to progress to keep the diabetes community safe. Second, this technology should always be improving in ways that make the lives of people with diabetes easier and less stressful.
Here are 4 diabetes technology solutions in 2021 that do just that.
Insulet’s Omnipod Horizon
2021 is looking to be the year for a commercial version of a closed-loop system with a patch pump. Insulet’s Omnipod Horizon is looking to be launched before the end of 2021, albeit a limited one. However, the trial run will be an important factor in getting this groundbreaking technology on track for a full commercial launch in 2021.
After a couple of years of various versions of the Omnipod being seen from Insulet (an insulin patch company), it looks like we’ll see their full-scale version in the not-so-distant future. The company has also hinted at the potential for a smartphone mobile app to accompany the new product.
2021 Update: last year, Omnipod was working towards even another upgrade for the Omnipod Horizon, the Omnipod 5. The Omnipod 5 will bring more app control, improved dosing,
Xeris Glucagon Pen (Gvoke HypoPen)
Talk about groundbreaking technology. In 2019, Xeris, a Chicago-based company, got FDA approval for what will be the world’s first ready-to-use stable liquid glucagon emergency pen. Essentially, it’s like an EpiPen, but instead of being used for allergic reactions, it will be used for diabetes emergencies.
The Gvoke HypoPen will consist of an easy-to-use, two-step process that simply involves taking the cap off and pushing down on the skin for about 5 seconds (the window on the device will turn red to alert the user when the glucagon pen has been used successfully). This is truly one of the most-anticipated technologies to come out in 2021 throughout the healthcare industry.
Pops Diabetes Care’s Rebel + Mina
Spotting a need for a digital care solution for people with diabetes that is both easy to use and easy to carry, Pops Diabetes Care created Rebel. This integrated virtual care system helps people with diabetes own their lives.
To create Rebel, Pops seamlessly combines the traditional test kit into a single meter that connects to the phone of the user. This not only makes Rebel a cinch to use but carrying around a glucose meter has never been easier. Pops has taken the work out of testing, making it much easier to test on the go.
But, Rebel doesn’t work alone. Mina—the virtual coach that comes with the meter—will help the user stay on top of their blood sugar testing. Also, Mina will encourage users to be more active and even ask questions to get to know them better.
Rebel + Mina is truly a groundbreaking innovation within the diabetes sphere.
Bluetooth Connectivity for Afrezza
Mannkind Corp., the company that is behind the Afrezza inhalation insulin solution, is well on its way to launching an add-on, Bluetooth connectivity adapter for this product.
BlueHale Pro will be able to monitor the inhalation technique for those who are using the device. Then, doctors will be able to see how effective the patients are using Bluehale Pro, enabling them to offer solutions on how to improve their use of Afrezza.
The add-on device will also tell the user if they are using it correctly, flashing a green light when the insulin has been inhaled properly and a red light if it has not.
Dexcom G7 Continuous Glucose Monitoring Device
The Dexcom G6 CGM system changed the game when it comes to monitoring your glucose. The easy-to-place sensor and the technological capabilities made it easier than ever, as it finally rid diabetes management of painful daily pinpricks. They’ve made improvements on the Dexcom G6 and plan to bring the G7 to market with tons of new improvements and enhancements that are sure to make it even better and easier to manage diabetes.
What’s new with the G7 complete re-design?
- The sensor is over half the size of the original G6 (60% smaller in fact), which offers a virtually undetectable sensor under your clothing.
- The smaller size has also allowed them to fully automate their manufacturing and produce much larger volumes, without upping the cost.
- The new sensors and transmitters will be fully disposable—no more reusable transmitters.
- They are working to improve the wear time from 10 days to two whole weeks.
- All the Bluetooth and application capabilities will remain the same, but a few new features in the app will give users an enhanced experience.
The pandemic halted much of the process of launching the G7 in 2020, but clinical trials have just started up again and they say the G7 could come to market in late 2021, with full distribution plus any added improvements in 2022.
Bigfoot Unity Smart Insulin Pen
Moving away from glucose monitoring, and automated insulin management, let’s talk about what’s here to come for those requiring multiple daily injection therapy, or MDI. There are many insulin pens coming to market, but the Bigfoot Unity Smart Pen is one to watch out for.
Bigfoot Unity was just approved by the FDA after over 9 months of review, and so they have an open field now to come to market in the coming year. So, what is so special about this smart insulin pen?
Bigfoot Biomedical is a startup in California that has burst onto the diabetes scene with this tool that will change the game for people requiring different types of insulin therapy like long vs. short term and multiple daily doses of insulin. This pen is compatible with smart devices and the majority of the diabetes management apps out there like the Abbott Libre. And the cool thing about this pen specifically is that the alerts and dosage recommendations will show up on a small LED screen on the pen itself, and users never even have to open their phone application to see.
The basics of the system are as follows:
- The long-term and short-term insulins will be displayed via different colored caps: black for long-acting doses (basal) and white for rapid-acting doses (bolus).
- Intended for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
- Customized meal notifications can adjust to a user’s dosage schedules and tell them to eat a small, medium, or large meal. Genius!
- The cap of the pen doubles as a rechargeable battery, and one charge can last for several weeks.
- The pan cap holds all sorts of data that normally would have to be viewed on a phone via the application being used. Instead, glucose readings, low glucose alerts, and other data are visible right from the pens’ cap.
Bigfoot is also combining the convenience of subscriptions with its business model. After getting a prescription from their doctor, people with diabetes can have a subscription-style kit mailed to their house every month that includes everything they need all in one convenient package. Insulin will still be obtained through a pharmacy, but everything else will be in their monthly box: pen supplies, alcohol wipes, lancets, and test strips.
As major advancements in technology expand to the healthcare industry, we can start saying goodbye to cumbersome diabetes management. Instead, diabetes care can be taken anywhere, anytime, and people with diabetes can get their lives back.
Let us know if we missed any diabetes technology innovations to look for this year in the comments!