How Wireless Innovations Are Changing the Treatment of Diabetes and Other Diseases

For the 29 million Americans suffering from diabetes, measuring their glucose levels with special equipment can be invasive, painful and inconvenient. Luckily, advances in wireless technology are bringing relief to diabetes patients as well as Americans diagnosed with other diseases, as part of a growing revolution in healthcare innovation. 

Google and global healthcare giant Novartis recently announced a new smart contact lens technology that will help diabetic patients measure the glucose levels in their tears, and send that information to a wireless device. The contact lenses rely on miniature sensors, microchips and a radio antenna — thinner than a human hair — to collect and transmit data. The lenses also help farsighted patients focus on nearby objects. Novartis plans to begin selling the lenses within five years. 

Technology is also helping tuberculosis (TB) patients, thanks to wireless solutions developed through innovative research at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Funded by Verizon Foundation grants of cash, smartphones and cloud technology, UCSD is implementing a first-of-its-kind remote treatment-monitoring system that allows TB patients to take medication on their own schedule and check in with doctors remotely, using video on smartphones. 

This technology solves one of the biggest problems the healthcare system faces in fighting TB: patient compliance. After just a few weeks of a six-month regimen of daily medications, many patients feel “back to normal,” and stop taking their medication altogether. As a result, drug-resistant strains of the organism may emerge, often requiring a follow-up one-year regimen of daily medication to kill the disease for good.

Because of this problem, and because TB is highly contagious, state and federal regulations require TB patients to take their medication in the presence of a medical professional to ensure they adhere to their regimen. But scheduling that in-person face time seven days a week for six months is very difficult to do, so the monitoring of TB patients is not always consistent. UCSD’s remote treatment-monitoring program plans to help ease that difficulty by allowing patients to take their medication in the virtual “presence” of a medical professional.

Advancements in wireless technology are having a positive impact in healthcare in other ways, too. Last October, Verizon Enterprise Solutions launched Converged Health Management, which consists of a remote patient-monitoring medical platform designed to help clinicians and patients manage patients’ health in between doctor visits.

“Patient outcomes are often the result of what individuals do when they are away from their care providers,” said Dr. Peter Tippett, chief medical officer and vice president, Verizon Innovation Incubator. “With this solution, Verizon is helping to transform how healthcare is delivered in the U.S., by increasing patient engagement and empowering patients to better manage their own health.”

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