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Lilly, Tech Company Study Diabetes Experiences

Livongo glucose meter

Livongo glucose meter (Livongo Health)

8 January 2018. A maker of diabetes drugs and digital health enterprise are beginning a study of real world experiences with self-management and education among people with diabetes. Drug maker Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis and Livongo Health in Mountain View, California say they plan to publish the results of their collaboration, but gave no timetable for the project, nor were financial details disclosed.

Diabetes is a chronic disorder where the pancreas does not create enough insulin to process the sugar glucose to flow into the blood stream and cells for energy in the body. In type 2 diabetes, which accounts for at least 90 percent of all diabetes cases, the pancreas produces some but not enough insulin, or the body cannot process insulin. According to the International Diabetes Federation, diabetes affects an estimated 425 million people worldwide, of which 44 million are in North America.

Lilly is a provider of diabetes medications, and according to the company, the first commercial source of insulin. Livongo designs digital systems for managing diabetes, including analytics derived from data provided by individuals using the company’s smartphone-based technology. The system includes a smart blood glucose meter that connects to cellular networks, and transmits data from the meter to family members, clinicians monitoring the person’s condition, and third-party diabetes counselors certified by Livongo. The meter also collects other data related to the person’s health, such as physical activity.

Data from the smart meter are sent as well to a database in the cloud, where a rules-based inference engine analyzes the data and offers personalized guidance to the individual with diabetes and his or her physician. Livongo users with the mobile app can receive coaching, with tips on nutrition and lifestyle changes, from licensed third-party counselors. People connected to the meter in the Livongo community can provide feedback via voice telephone, e-mail, or text message.

The partnership with Lilly is expected to capture data on real-life experiences of people with diabetes in managing their conditions and learning more about the disease. Combining information gleaned from Livongo systems with insurance claims data, the research team aims to measure the impact of self-education and support on clinical outcomes and health care costs. The researchers also plan to document the factors driving healthy behaviors, and better understand ways people with diabetes can become or remain actively involved in their own health.

Livongo’s diabetes program was evaluated in a study published in July 2017, with data collected from 4,544 Livongo members. The results show participants in the program were 18 percent less likely to experience days with their blood sugar levels going too low, and 16 percent less likely to have days where blood sugar levels trended too high. The data were collected from October 2014 through December 2015.

“These studies will have a direct impact on the lives of Livongo members,” says Jennifer Schneider, Livongo’s chief medical officer, in a joint statement. “Livongo uses reinforcement learning to create customized and actionable insights that guide people to better manage their diabetes. The knowledge we gain from these studies will be incorporated into our diabetes management platform to help drive better health outcomes for our members.”

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