NEBGH's updated guide provides adetailed checklist of the features and functionalities of thedigital tools available now to manage diabetes, as well asinformation on several unique and innovative digital diabetessolutions.

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The Northeast Business Group on Health has updated its “Digital Tools and Solutions for Diabetes: AnEmployer's Guide,” to include both enhanced and newsolutions—and promising future innovations—to help employers helptheir workers better manage their diabetes, lower costs andultimately save more lives.

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“Employers are well aware of the costs associated with diabetes in theiremployee and dependent populations—they continue to indicate thisis a top concern and are increasingly aware of the links betweendiabetes and other chronic and debilitating health conditions, including cardiovasculardisease,” says Candice Sherman, CEO of NEBGH.

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Related: 10 states with the highest diabetesrates

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The market for digital diabetes prevention and managementsolutions continues to mature since the group published its firstguide in 2016, Sherman says. The updated guide provides a detailedchecklist of the features and functionalities of the digital toolsavailable now to manage diabetes, as well as information on severalunique and innovative digital diabetes solutions that are beingtargeted to employers but were not part of NEBGH's research,including Proteus Discover, BlueLoop and do-it-yourselfprograms.

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“Proteus Discover is comprised of ingestible sensors, a smallwearable sensor patch, an application on a mobile device and aprovider portal,” the guide cites the provider. “Once activated,Proteus Discover unlocks never-before-seen insight into patienthealth patterns and medication treatment effectiveness, leading tomore informed healthcare decisions for everyone involved.”

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“BlueLoop is the one and only tool that allows kids and theircaregivers to log and share diabetes information—both online andwith the app—in real time, via instant e-mail and text message,giving peace of mind to parents,more class time for students andfewer phone calls and paper logs for school nurses,” the providertells NEBGH. “Online, parents can share real-time BG logs withtheir clinicians, who can see logs (in the format they prefer),current dosages and reports, all in one place.”

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The guide also hints at promising future innovations:

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“Technology is constantly evolving: by connecting sensors,wearables and apps, it is increasingly possible to pool andleverage data in innovative ways to provide timely interventions sothat people with diabetes can be truly independent and effectivelyself-manage their care,” the authors write.

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The guide lists a hypothetical scenario: A person with diabetesenters a restaurant where a GPS sensor identifies the location,reviews the menu and proposes the best choices based on caloric andcarbohydrate content. The technology also proposes and delivers arapidly acting insulin bolus dose based on the person's exerciselevel that day and prior experiences when eating similar meals.

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Also included are key questions for employers consideringimplementing digital diabetes tools or solutions, including:

  •  What does the company want to achieve with a digitaltool?
  • How much is the company willing to pay?
  • How will success be measured?
  • How will digital solutions and tools be marketed to employeesand their families?
  • What privacy issues need to be addressed when tools orsolutions are implemented?

“Digital health tools hold the promise of improved healthoutcomes and reduced health care expenses through improvedengagement, better collaboration and sustained behavior change,”says Mark Cunningham-Hill, NEBGH's medical director. “However,digital diabetes solutions are not a panacea.

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Employers will need to address several obstacles such asdifficulty of recruitment and enrollment, lack of sustainedemployee engagement and the cost of deployment of digitalsolutions. This can be accomplished through careful planning andlearning from other employers that have successfully implementedthese tools.”

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Katie Kuehner-Hebert

Katie Kuehner-Hebert is a freelance writer based in Running Springs, Calif. She has more than three decades of journalism experience, with particular expertise in employee benefits and other human resource topics.