NEW YORK – Kids and teens with Type 1 diabetes are swimming, rock climbing, hiking and playing various field sports in the redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains – all while testing a device that automatically measures their blood sugar and determines how much insulin they’ll need.
Using Verizon’s network technology, campers aged 7 to 17 are participating in a clinical trial of an artificial pancreas at a diabetes summer camp in Boulder Creek, California. The University of Virginia’s Center for Diabetes Technology and the Stanford University School of Medicine are conducting the trial.
The artificial pancreas is a system that measures blood glucose levels every few minutes, using a continuous glucose monitor. A smartphone with special software then transmits this information to an insulin pump that calculates and can release the required amount of insulin into the body. This system, which is worn like an insulin pump, has been termed the “artificial pancreas” because it monitors and adjusts insulin levels just as the pancreas does in people without diabetes.
Currently, diabetics who are insulin-dependent must manually measure levels of glucose in their blood, either by the traditional method of pricking a finger or by using a continuous glucose monitor, a device that senses glucose levels via a needle inserted under the skin. Based on these measurements, diabetics adjust glucose levels by taking multiple injections of insulin daily or by continually infusing insulin with a pump via needles placed under the skin. This traditional method requires careful and persistent work 24 hours a day.
Researchers at the University of Virginia’s Center for Diabetes Technology and the Stanford University School of Medicine who are conducting the trial of the artificial pancreas system are hopeful that it can make management of Type 1 diabetes much easier and potentially transform patients’ lives. So for at least one week this summer, the campers involved in the artificial pancreas trial are acting just like any other kids and teens attending outdoor camps across the nation.
To enable the artificial pancreas clinical trial, Verizon is providing the underlying technology through its Verizon Wireless Private Network with 4G LTE access and secure Private IP network along with the company’s HIPAA-enabled Data Center Services,* allowing the researchers to securely track, access and store patient data from the trial.
“The power of our private network solutions is crucial when serving the healthcare industry,” said Jean McManus, Verizon executive director of technology. “Transmitting, sharing, storing and accessing confidential patient data are critical for conducting clinical trials as well as for our other healthcare clients. With our secure healthcare-ready infrastructure, researchers and patients can rest easy knowing that their confidential information stays that way.”
How Verizon’s Network and Technology Are Used for Diabetic Care
Campers are using smartphones loaded with artificial pancreas software that tracks their diabetes management. During the camp session, necessary information for Type 1 diabetics, which includes any instant medical alerts, is at campers’ fingertips via the artificial pancreas software loaded on their smartphones. This software, which is hosted in a HIPAA-enabled Verizon data center, is what allows the continuous glucose monitor to “talk” with the insulin pump. The smartphone, continuous glucose monitor and the insulin pump are worn by each camper round-the-clock.
All data from the campers’ continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps are monitored in real time by university research medical staff members at the camps. Rather than using the public Internet, this solution enables data to be transmitted securely over Verizon’s Wireless Private Network and Verizon’s Private IP network to a Verizon data center for storage and retrieval.
“Verizon is making huge strides in helping to enable the delivery of healthcare services in the United States,” said Richard Black, vice president of Verizon’s healthcare practice. “We are very focused on using our expertise and assets to remove the traditional barriers in healthcare so that technology can be utilized by clinicians to help them enhance patient care and improve patient outcomes. This is a great example of how we are working toward making this a reality.”
According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Organization, about 3 million people in the United States have Type 1 insulin-dependent diabetes. Each year more than 15,000 children and 15,000 adults – approximately 80 people per day -- are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in the U.S., and this accounts for $14.9 billion in healthcare costs annually.
*Each client remains responsible for ensuring that it complies with HIPAA and all other applicable laws and regulations.