Medtronic and IBM collaborate to create diabetes app which predicts hypoglycemia

Jack Woodfield
Tue, 12 Jan 2016
Medtronic and IBM collaborate to create diabetes app which predicts hypoglycemia
A smartphone app powered by Watson, the IBM supercomputer, could help people with diabetes prevent episodes of hypoglycemia, according to medical device company Medtronic.

The findings were presented at the Consumer Technology Association Digital Health Summit, hosted by the Financial Times.

Last year, Novo Nordisk teamed up with IBM to create a "virtual doctor" which would be known as Watson Health. The computer can generate precise treatment advice for people with diabetes, such as insulin dose calculations, and base advice on massive amounts of data. Now, Medtronic wants to utilise Watson's capability to analyse huge volumes of data, detecting patterns and simulate human reasoning to introduce a smartphone app that provides warnings for hypoglycemia.

This smartphone alert would give insulin-treated diabetes patients the chance to consume glucose and prevent their blood sugar levels falling too low.

In a test, Watson was able to predict hypoglycemic events that 600 participants experienced three hours in advance with 80 per cent accuracy. To do this, it evaluated data from Medtronic's MiniMed insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor, along with carbohydrate intake.

Annette Brüls, vice president and general manager of Medtronic's global diabetes unit, told Medscape Medical News: "With the alert 3 hours in advance, there's time to intervene. This is self-management."

Medtronic hope to develop the app for release this summer, with Brüls adding that Medtronic's collaboration with IBM could lead to diabetes management apps that are even smarter in the future.

Such plans include helping patients monitor their diet, physical activity and insulin intake - offering several lifestyle recommendations that can enable the software to serve as a personal diabetes coach.
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