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Can digital solutions really live up to the hype?

Welcome to a never-ending to-do list. Life with diabetes can feel like a constant hum of questions, such as ‘when’s my next insulin dose?’, ‘what’s my blood sugar count?’, and ‘how will it affect the way I feel later?’. The thought of being able to escape all that noise and just get on with enjoying life is understandably appealing. Perhaps it is no surprise that 70% of people living with diabetes wish they could have a day off from managing it.

Finally tech is here, promising to save everyone from these constant chores. But can it really? Or will it just add to the confusion? In recent years, various technologies have become available that have helped to lift some of the load of diabetes. The success of continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices and automatic insulin pumps, for instance, has led to a wave of hope around the potential of diabetes tech in the future.

But as capabilities advance and digital health solutions become more commonplace, can technology truly live up to the hype? Can the next generation of diabetes tech deliver what people around the world are really looking for?

Fitting into life, not onto it

For technologies to be truly useful, they must fit seamlessly into people’s lives, not be tacked onto them as another thing to think about. 

As Renza Scibilia, a blogger at Diabetogenic who’s been living with type 1 diabetes since 1998, puts it: “The convenience factor is really, really important. For example, it's great I can read my glucose level on my watch now. I don’t even have to pull anything out; it's so discreet and makes things a little easier for me.”

In fact, often the best solutions are invisible, simply ticking along in the background, providing vital information to both individuals and their healthcare professionals when needed. The best diabetes tech must be unobtrusive yet effective, reducing the hassle factor of living with diabetes while giving real improvements in overall health and quality of life.

No one-size-fits-all approach

Diabetes tech should bridge the gap between how people with diabetes want to go about their daily lives and how they currently have to. This means understanding their pain points, frustrations and opportunities before developing solutions that address them. Understandably these challenges and preferences will, of course, vary from person to person, meaning the most successful tech solutions will be those that can be personalised to fit individual needs. 

Put another way, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach here. “We need to not just push technology onto somebody because we think it's the right thing to do,” explains Mark Guarraia, head of design and user experience at Novo Nordisk. “We need to think about how our technology fits into their life and the way they actually want to live it.”

Quality not quantity

Nowadays data has become central to almost every aspect of our lives. But when it comes to diabetes tech, there’s an important balance to strike. CGMs can capture and share huge amounts of data, but for data to add value, it shouldn’t become a burden or overwhelm people with diabetes, their doctors and nurses. 

How can we help improve the lives of technology ‘lovers’ and ‘haters’ at the same time? By developing simple solutions that harness the power of data in a way that’s easy to understand and has a purpose. As Renza pointed out, it is also about catering to individual needs and not assuming one single solution will work for everyone.  

What’s next?

In the healthcare industry, we all have a lot of hard, important work to do and at Novo Nordisk, we believe that everyone has a responsibility to take the journey forward, for the benefit of people with diabetes and their healthcare providers.

At Novo Nordisk we speak to thousands of people every year to understand their diabetes journey and learn how we can help. We are eager to contribute to a growing number of digital solutions that can… we hope… fade into the background. Often, living up to the hype is about doing something spectacular. In the case of diabetes tech, that may actually come down to being invisible.

Disclaimer: In this article you will find links to third-party material not owned or controlled by Novo Nordisk. We are not responsible for the content or the accuracy of the information provided and have no control over the privacy policies or terms of use of such third-party sites.

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