Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, amputations and kidney failure. It is estimated that 8% of the global population is diabetic—a figure that is higher in wealthier parts of the world. In 2013, the economic cost of diabetes globally was estimated at $548 billion. There is no cure for diabetes but it is preventable and there are plenty of treatment options.
Diabetacare aims to help. It is trialing a new blood-sugar level device with remote monitoring capability across 800 patients in Bangalore, India. Working in tandem with eight day clinics in the city, the devices provide regular monitoring along with personalized treatment schedules. Specially-trained nurses monitor the daily data and specialist diabetes doctors are ready to review progress and deal with emergencies.
Improving the treatment and prevention of diabetes “Medicine is only around 30% of the management of diabetes,” says Dr. Sanjiv Agarwal, Diabetacare’s founder and CEO.
“The biggest factors are compliance and lifestyle choices. It’s up to the patient to take their medicine on time and monitor what they eat and drink.”
Traditional treatments require patients to stick to a rolling regime of medication and monitoring. Unfortunately, this demands strict discipline from patients and regular visits with doctors, costing time and money. Diabetacare helps both the discipline and the monitoring. However, for its devices to function they require real-time connectivity. This connectivity allows data to be uploaded to a central server and for this data to be then securely accessed by multiple parties.
"Developing the right technology was key," says Agarwal. “What we didn’t want to do is overload patients with more technology, they won’t adopt it. It had to be technology they were comfortable with. We didn’t want wires and we didn’t want Bluetooth. We wanted easy, switched on connectivity.”
Agarwal, based in the UK and a consultant to the NHS, spoke first to Vodafone, then to the specialist Vodafone m-health team. It became clear Vodafone’s Global M2M Platform offered the best solution. “We looked at alternatives but, for me, Vodafone’s M2M solution is ahead of the game. Beyond the technology, Vodafone was able to demonstrate a real problem-solving attitude. “This is a vital piece of medical equipment, we had to make sure the solution worked perfectly before launching – and that required many rounds of testing. We couldn’t have done this without Vodafone’s patience and expertise. Vodafone has been very proactive in getting this solution to market.”
The Diabetacare solution monitors glucose and blood pressure levels, automatically sending this data to specialist clinicians (including doctors and nutritionists). Treatment is personalized and adjusted accordingly, with periodic face to face visits at the nearest clinic. The Bangalore pilot began in March 2014.
Reports suggest there are 100 million diagnosed diabetes sufferers in India, with perhaps a further 30 million undiagnosed. Diabetacare is a mainstream proposition and the service is priced to make it affordable.
“It provides a personal, positive loop,” says Agarwal. “The more data we have the better able we are to treat the patient. It provides us better insight into the lives of diabetes sufferers. The more attention we pay to a patient, the more likely we are to see regular data.”
Diabetacare plans a cluster-by-cluster roll-out across India. A Dubai pilot planned for April 2015 will see the start of the company’s international expansion Agarwal is targeting 100,000 subscribers within three years. Vodafone scale and coverage means the business needs just one supplier, fully managed from a single Global platform.It means Diabetacare is ready to respond quickly to growth opportunities.
The most enticing opportunity, he says, is with the UK NHS. “We hope to start a pilot in the Midlands in 2015. We know the NHS has an appetite for e-health solutions, and is looking at improving outcomes for patients. They want to see our solution working first. “Keeping yourself informed and monitoring your health condition regularly is the key to efficient diabetes management—no matter whether that’s Bangalore, Dubai or Birmingham.”
The Bottom Line
• Enables Diabetacare to launch world’s first remote diabetes treatment and prevention solution, creating first-mover advantage
• Single Global SIM allows the business to plan for international ramp up from local pilot of 800 to 100,000 subscribers within three years
• Provides a real-time view of customer data usage, billing and SIM control from a single Global platform