The Digital Battle With Type 2 Diabetes
For a while, I have been missing in action writing about Healthcare Technologies (I miss it, soo much).
Well, let’s hope that I have resumed with this short review.
Check out this old review I wrote for V-LAP (remote monitoring of cardiovascular physiologies) some months back. It’s still so fresh like it was written yesterday.
So, I stumbled upon an article on medium, some days ago, about a brilliant & innovative Digital Health Solution that is really promising. And what makes it even more fascinating is that it was developed in Africa; in Nigeria to be more precise.
The world of Digital Therapeutics has come to stay. There’s no going back. It’s a new and exciting dimension of healthcare, one that requires a lot of dedication, in research & innovation, so that we can better understand how to maximize it for the improvement of the health of the human population.
And COVID-19 has but being a beautiful blessing in disguise. Because of its ugliness and wickedness, it has taught us a lot of things about ourselves.
We are adapting, adjusting, growing, and learning how to use what we have to protect ourselves, especially in the dynamic sphere of Digital Health Technologies.
Sustain is a digital product designed by Lifebox Lab, that intelligently & innovatively makes use of remote medical care, behavioral science, and personalized nutrition therapy to help reverse the negative effects of type 2 diabetes, and maybe eliminate it (as the case may be).
I took my time to analyze all the information that they have made available to the public. From basic information about Lifebox Lab to understand how their new product/service works. And this post includes some of my conjectures and observations.
The World Health Organization gives a straightforward definition of Diabetes Mellitus:
“Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a metabolic disorder of chronic hyperglycemia characterized by disturbances to carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism resulting from absolute or relative insulin deficiency with dysfunction in organ systems.”
A lot of jargon for those who may not understand. Ok, let’s call Diabetes Mellitus, “Sugar Disease“.
Our bodies need sugar for a lot of things [our brain is the biggest consumer of glucose]. If we have little glucose in our bodies, it’s going to cause problems for us. On the other hand, if we have too much glucose in our bodies, there will be a problem too.
“Insulin is an important hormone that makes sure that there isn’t too much glucose in the bloodstream. When glucose becomes too much in the blood, there are biochemical pathways that are activated that trigger the release of insulin – don’t get bored…”
So, the body has intrinsic physiological pathways that help maintain how glucose is utilized in the body [usage, storage & elimination].
In Diabetes Mellitus [all types], there is a little glitch in the system that regulates the metabolism of glucose [breakdown, usage, storage & elimination].
There are a number of causes or predisposing factors [situations that make it possible for an individual to become diabetic, either Type 1 or Type 2, the other type occurs during pregnancy, and shouldn’t be a problem] – Genetic Factors, Social Factors [lifestyle], Damage to the Pancrease from accident, inflammation, or other intrinsic pathologies, etc…it’s a long list, don’t let us bore you with all that.
There are different types of diabetes mellitus, but the most famous of them all, the most notorious of the gang is Type 2 Diabetes.
In Type 2 Diabetes [non-insulin dependent], there is insulin resistance (remember that we talked a little bit about insulin here).
In insulin resistance, the cells find it difficult to utilize glucose because there isn’t enough insulin produced by the pancreas; an organ in the abdomen that produces insulin and some other important hormones.
So, you can simply put it this way, in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, there is:
- Resistance to insulin action.
- Inadequate insulin secretion [the pancreas can’t keep up].
- And excessive or inappropriate secretion of glucagon.
Phew, that was a long one there…
Now, how does Sustain come in?
- Remote medical care,
- Behavioral science, and
- Personalized nutrition therapy.
These three points are brought into one digital platform that the client can interact with.
In the management of Chronic Diseases, one factor that we have to put into consideration is ‘compliance.’ And almost all the time, we don’t care about it.
All we want to do is quickly diagnose, manage them [partially, because we don’t continue the care], and discharge them…bye!
And when they can’t comply with the treatment regimen, when there is no dedicated follow-up system, Taddaaa! They are back to us…
Digital Therapeutics is solving this problem, closing this gap by connecting clients/patients with the right tools and motivation that they need to remain compliant to important treatment regimes.
I believe this is what Sustain does. There is no bogus or complex recipe here [the Software development and other technical stuff is where the big work is].
They saw the gap, and they decided to close it by designing a bridge that connects the patient to what will keep them attached to the vital tools that they need to remain healthy.
There’s no real continuity of care…
Will It Cure Type 2 Diabetes?
Cure? It may not be able to eliminate the root cause(s) of Type 2 Diabetes [depending on the primary cause(s)] but may reverse damages and prevent further systemic degeneration.
It’s promising. As more patients & clients begin to understand what they need to do on their own to remain healthy.
You see, that’s where the big work is – keeping them glued to the therapy.
Should patients/clients stop taking their medications because they have Sustain? Or other intelligent digital therapies?
Well, tricky one there…
From a professional standpoint, I think it will be wise to still keep to the medication regimen [this depends on the stage of the disease, the age of the client, and some other factors].
We can’t just start saying that patients/clients abandon pharmaceutical or other therapies because there is a new digital guy in town.
Not wise at all…
Let us tell them to keep making use of pharmaceutical and other therapies, while they keep adhering to the therapeutic instructions that the application/software gives them.
I have not used the app. If you want to try it, you can check it out here. They have a waiting list, and I am not particularly sure when it will be made available to the public.
Digital Therapeutics Have Come To Stay
It’s already a reality. We have innovative teams all over the world that are designing digital solutions to many of the public health problems that plague humanity.
Most of these solutions are based on extremely simple social theories of compliance, communication, dedicated follow-up (remote care) & early detection, which are the most important characteristics of Digital Therapeutics.
Digital Therapies should be prescribed. Primary healthcare providers, ranging from Physicians to Nurses, even to Community Healthcare Workers (who are a vital string of the community health service) need to start understanding how Digital Therapies are affecting patients outcomes.
They need to adapt their clinical practices to accommodate the new innovations in patient care that Digital Therapeutics has brought to the healthcare scene.
Software As A Service
Can the demographics in a developing country like Nigeria be able to subscribe to Digital Healthcare Technologies like Sustain?
Interesting question. I will answer that question in the next article.
But before I close the curtain. A little comment as regards that question:
The demographics in Nigeria is rapidly changing. More people are beginning to adopt digital solutions. In commerce, leadership & personal development.
What stops them from embracing digital healthcare solutions?
It’s only a matter of time before we begin to see the massive explosion of the Digital Healthcare Industry in Nigeria & Africa.
And that brings us to the end of this brief review. What is your take on Lifebox Lab’s Sustain? Do you think it’s a solution that will thrive in Africa’s emerging Digital Healthcare Industry?
Our Digital Healthcare Hub, Carecode is dedicated to exposing healthcare professionals in Nigeria & Africa to the realities of Digital Healthcare Technologies.
Check us out, and see what we are doing. You can be a part of our team, as a volunteer, a friend, or partner. There’s something we can do together.
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