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4 New High-Tech Tools to Help Control Diabetes

New Diabetes Control Tools: Diabetes Information Management Software continued...

Bayer HealthCare's latest software can even identify rapid swings in blood glucose, which signal that patients have over-treated themselves with insulin or food, says Paul Inman, director of research and development.

"There's some evidence that people who use these types of software have better outcomes than people who don't," Klonoff says. "They have more information and it's analyzed for them." Patients can also share the information with their doctor to guide treatment.

HealthPia America, has introduced a combination cell phone and glucose tester, a "telemedicine" device that allows the user to transmit the stored data to a doctor's office, according to HealthPia President Steven Kim.

Other home monitoring systems can determine HgA1c levels in minutes.This test is an indicator of your average blood sugar in a 2-3 month period. Studies have shown a direct association between the HgA1c levels and the risks of complications related to diabetes.

New Diabetes Control Tools: Smaller, Hidden Insulin Pumps

When the Omnipod Insulin Management System came on the market in 2005, it signaled a new generation of pumps. These were small, disposable, worn directly on the skin, and concealed under clothing.

"It's a completely different animal. It's the size of a small half-kiwi or a small Matchbox car," says Elizabeth Vivaldi, director of marketing at Insulet Corp., maker of the Omnipod. The pump, a compact "pod," weighs only 1.2 ounces when its insulin reservoir is full.

"You can hide it. People don't need to know," says Kowalski, who wears an Omnipod. He says that many people resist conventional insulin pumps. They're typically worn on one's belt like a small cell phone, with short tubing to deliver insulin through a needle inserted under abdominal skin. Many people dislike hooking up the pump and they try to conceal the tubing.

In contrast, the Omnipod adheres to the abdomen, lower back, arm or other site. It also gets rid of the tubing. Instead, it delivers insulin through a small cannula inserted under the skin. When it's time for an insulin dose, the patient uses a wireless, handheld device to control delivery. Omnipods are worn for up to 3 days and then replaced.

While the Omnipod is a "pod pump," Klonoff says, "there are many scientists working on even smaller pumps." Every component has to be miniaturized, he adds, perhaps to the point of creating a "patch pump" about the size of a wallet.

Kowalski says that the future of pump therapy may be disposable, patch-like pumps, maybe something a little bigger than a Band-Aid.

"Absolutely a huge deal," he says.

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Reviewed on December 16, 2009

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