Editor’s note: Nearly two-thirds of all deaths globally occur due to non-communicable diseases. Better prevention and treatment could save tens of millions of lives and reduce healthcare costs dramatically. IBM and Novartis recently sponsored the NCD Challenge, a global university competition aimed at producing innovative solutions addressing NCDs. The winners are Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley; and ESADE Business School, Ramon Llull University in Barcelona, Spain. This guest post was written by the leader of the ESADE team.
Join the conversion at People for a Smarter Planet on Facebook and on Twitter at #NCD.
By Ching-Chia Hsu
ESADE Business School-Universidad Ramón Llull
Over the past several decades, because of advances in science, business and government services, life has become easier for many people around the globe. However, one of the side effects of increased wealth and leisure is that a lot of people suffer from non- communicable diseases, which are often the result of poor eating habits and inadequate exercise.
Among NCDs, diabetes is one of the major and most challenging chronic diseases. There are 346 million diabetics worldwide, and this number is expected to double by 2030. In China alone, the population of diabetics tops 90 million, and they account for 14 percent of national healthcare expenditures.
The severity of the diabetes epidemic was what inspired my university’s team in the NCD Challenge to create a innovative way of lessening its impact. The other team members were: Meng-Chi Chen, Alexander Anthonysamy, Kohei Sato and Feras Nagadi,
The main hurdles to reducing the impact of diabetes are awareness and compliance. Because little attention is paid to prevention in most societies, patients’ conditions are diagnosed and treated only after they have threatening health conditions. Additionally, patients often fail to comply with medications and treatments, causing their conditions to worsen.
During the NCD Challenge, our team developed Dr. Diabetes, a solution aimed at addressing these two main issues. Dr. Diabetes utilizes a handheld device loaded with a software application and connected to the computing cloud. It is a total solution designed to provide diabetes awareness, monitoring and management to patients with chronic illness, initially for China. The solution provides medical data via the cloud to physicians for accurate diagnosis, and to pharmaceutical companies and hospitals for efficient research and development. It’s designed to be expandable to address other NCDs.
We estimate that Dr. Diabetes could lower the risk of complications, decrease treatment costs by up to 73 percent, and decrease hospital visits by 65 percent for patients throughout China.
With one handheld device, one app, and one-touch access, Dr. Diabetes helps address most all diabetes needs, especially for patients in developing countries. This is the type of accessible, sustainable, and scalable innovation that can be applied to help address one of the world’s most challenging chronic illnesses.