Dexcom (Nasdaq:DXCM) is one of the leaders in the diabetes technology space with its continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) technology.
The company’s current-generation Dexcom G6 CGM remains one of the biggest players in the CGM space. Meanwhile, its next-generation Dexcom G7 CGM has already launched in a number of countries overseas. The wearable device — which features a 60% size reduction from G6 — still awaits FDA clearance.
Dexcom sits among a number of companies developing wearables for helping people manage their diabetes. The company’s SVP for Product, Global Marketing, Apurv Kamath, spoke today at AdvaMed’s The MedTech Conference on the impact of wearables.
While he focuses on diabetes management, the panel on which he sat covered a range of uses for wearables in medtech. It featured Alissa Hsu Lynch, global lead for medtech strategy & solutions at Google, and Amy McDonough, COO for Fibit Health Solutions. Deloitte Medtech Practice Leader Glenn Snyder moderated.
Challenges with diabetes management
When it comes to diabetes — both type 1 and 2 — these are diseases managed primarily by the patient. They self-manage 24/7, Kamath said.
The burden rests with the patient, yes, but also the caregiver. For instance, the parent of a child, as Kamath explained, has the psychosocial burden of the fear of hypoglycemia while that child is at school.
“That points to the psychosocial burden or psychological burden as one of the primary challenges,” said Kamath. “There’s a burden of measuring glucose levels, administering therapy, diet and lifestyle management.”
These burdens only grow with the barriers of social determinants of health and access to information needed to support management, he said.
Without access to information, patients can’t make changes to their therapy optimization, according to Kamath. A need for social support also exists through the network of social networks and family caregivers.
“There have been great advances in harnessing data and building a support network to manage diabetes,” he said. “I would focus on those two — the psychosocial burden and social determinants of health [as challenges].”
Utilizing wearables to harness that data
McDonough pointed out that it’s important for data to work together. She used diabetes as an example, with a need to go for a walk after eating to help lower blood glucose and achieve time in range.
She said both the individual and the healthcare systems must be able to provide insights in a personalized way. As evidence, Kamath pointed out that somewhere between 20% and 30% of Dexcom users wear an activity tracker like a smartwatch or a fitbit.
“And I think that’s the opportunity we have, to help very passively measure those things,” McDonough said. “Both provide motivation for the individual to help feed into that care system and make that more effective and efficient.”
So, Kamath said, it begs the question: How can technology developers make that easier? The patients can connect the dots themselves.
“[The patient] is making the connection between how going for a walk impacts blood sugars,” said Kamath. “Is that going to be a consistent impact? It’s that feedback loop that drives consistent behavior change. How can we make that easier? How can we integrate the experience? Deliver insight, so that it’s less effort for better outcomes.”
Creating a patient-centric experience
Kamath noted that connected devices deliver a more consumer-like experience to medtech and medical devices. This growing trend creates a patient-centric offering, he said.
“Our patients or users are expecting more of that seamless consumer technology experience with their health data and medical data,” Kamath said. “Think of how easy it is to conduct a transaction on our smartphones. … It’s not seamless to have CGM data written to the EHR or other health data pulled from the EHR and made visible to me. That’s what the device connect will do.”
Like device connectivity, application programming interfaces (APIs) help to improve the patient experience. In 2021, the FDA cleared the Dexcom Partner Web APIs. Those enable invited third-party developers to integrate real-time CGM data into their digital health apps and devices. Dexcom later partnered with Garmin on real-time APIs.
Dexcom also shares data with other management vendors, like Glooko, among others.
“That drives choice,” said Kamath. “Choice drives adoption. That’s really the value of APIs. They’re built on platforms that have security and privacy built in. It’s an enabler.”
How AI fits in
Artificial intelligence (AI) is all the rage and remains a major talking point at The MedTech Conference. It factors in heavily to the conversation around wearable technologies and driving innovation.
Kamath said Dexcom thinks around machine learning (ML) and AI in three domains. It aims to leverage ML techniques to optimize performance, like CGM accuracy and reliability. The company applies AI and ML to clinical patterns to extract data from the patient population and translate insights in a way that creates patterns in clinical outcomes.
Finally, the company’s view on AI and ML goes back to the consumerization trend in medtech.
Within the first 30 days of a user’s journey with CGM, they’re still getting used to the product, Kamath explained. Perhaps they experience data capture issues or trouble with Bluetooth connectivity. Dexcom can detect that.
“We can provide personalized communication at the right time to get the right tone to help that patient troubleshoot and get the optimal value out of their system,” Kamath said. “More consumerization is being driven using these technologies that extract information from data and deliver personalized communications to the patient.”