Transforming patient-centric care for people living with diabetes | HCLTech

Transforming patient-centric care for people living with diabetes

The shift of healthcare delivery to a patient-centric model requires active listening, appreciating the burden of disease and prioritizing patient-driven solutions
7 minutes read
Nicholas Ismail
Nicholas Ismail
Global Head of Brand Journalism, HCLTech
7 minutes read
Transforming patient-centric care for people living with diabetes

The healthcare ecosystem, as it exists today, has made incremental improvements in addressing poor outcomes and reducing harm.  Some as simple as electronic prescribing to prevent errors in insulin dosing have been remarkably effective, yet other challenges remain. Certain incremental improvements are specifically designed to be patient-centric, such as increased use of telemedicine after the initial COVID-19 pandemic.

According to an OECD report, as many as four in 10 patients globally are harmed in primary and outpatient healthcare. The most detrimental errors are related to diagnosis, prescription and the use of medicines, but up to 80% of this harm is preventable.

Another report from OECD found that investments in reducing patient harm (or improving patient care) can lead to better patient outcomes and cost savings. An example of prevention is engaging patients in both physical and virtual settings, which can reduce the burden of harm by as much as 15%.

The adoption of cloud-based solutions and other technologies for a more collaborative and personalized approach is a priority for healthcare providers looking to improve patient-centric care.

A shifting landscape

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a seismic shift in how patient care was delivered. Treatment plans such as IV infusions needed to be adapted so they could be administered at home. This meant that in some cases, patients had to be empowered to deliver their treatments and monitor their conditions, which required a new patient-centric approach from healthcare providers.

“The healthcare and patient care landscape has changed,” says Colleen Riley, SVP, Chief Technology Officer at embecta, a company that offers innovative products and services for people with diabetes.

She adds: “Many years ago, it was about a one-size-fits-all approach to curing or treating diseases. But today, healthcare is moving to a precision medicine or individualized model where the treatment requires customization that includes not only the medical treatment but how the treatment is administered.”

In the context of diabetes — a progressive metabolic disorder in which glucose levels in the bloodstream rise, treatment plans must consider the degree of progression and the unique needs of the person living with the disease. In some cases of people living with type 2 diabetes (T2D), weight loss will be sufficient, while others need to inject themselves with insulin multiple times daily. To meet these patient care requirements, embecta is focused on solutions meant to provide people living with diabetes patient-centric solutions that are appropriate for their unique circumstances at every stage of the disease.

“To deliver improved patient care for people with diabetes, we’re trying to consider what people are doing every single day, and what they are telling about the gaps in their care and how to address the unmet needs,” says Riley.

Inclusive of drug delivery, medical device innovation, patient and connected care and lifecycle management, healthcare should be an all-encompassing, patient-centric experience. To achieve this, providers need modularity, adaptability, flexibility, understanding and the ability to incorporate modern technology into various stages of the diagnosis, treatment and care value chain. Additionally, all these solutions should be designed to improve outcomes for patients on a daily basis.

The evolution of technology driving change

Innovations and technological evolutions have helped drive change, with a particular focus on improving patient care.

The evolution in design of embecta’s syringes and needles is a good example of this. Over time, they have become smaller and finer. Technology and improved processes have enabled embecta to create these less intrusive and painful medical devices to help with the delivery of medicine like insulin to people living with diabetes.

Recently, embecta has developed and launched a 34-gauge needle in Japan, which is the smallest needle on the market today for insulin delivery.

In addition, embecta’s product development team is developing a fully disposable, easy-to-use patch pump that administers insulin in a customizable way. Ease of use and purpose-built features for people living with T2D are essential design inputs.

“The patch pump will deliver insulin safely based on an algorithm’s recommendation. The function of the pump reflects advancements in hardware and software, and the algorithm’s decision on how much insulin the pump will administer is in part determined by the patient’s food intake, exercise and trends in glucose values,” says Riley.

She adds: “The pump will be connected to the cloud, providing patients access to their own data and allowing healthcare providers access that data to assist in therapeutic decision-making. This will improve virtual care and have the capacity to incorporate data from other sources — such as apps — to create a total, more personalized view of the patient.”

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Commenting on how to develop a patient-centric product, Riley explains: “Before designing any product, providers should completely understand the condition and understand how people of different demographics are struggling with different methods of treatment. The aim is then to reduce those challenges through the innovative design and testing of products, based on patient feedback and data analysis. This doesn’t just include ‘did you deliver the right amount of insulin?’, but also ‘how difficult was it to open up the packaging housing the device or medicine?’”

Looking ahead, embecta sees its creation of patient-centric solutions, like the patch pump, to be informed by what the patient expresses is their need and using those as critical design inputs. Using device connectivity and cloud solutions, the aim is to empower people with diabetes to work collaboratively with their healthcare providers to improve outcomes and self-effectiveness. Doing so will relieve some of the burden of living with a chronic disease.

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