Big Data Are Changing Diabetes Management in Big Ways

DIABETES CARE|Apr.17, 2019


TWEET THIS: Big data are revolutionizing industries across the board, such as healthcare. It's changing diabetes management, too, helping people with diabetes get better care that's tailor-made for them. Learn how. #healthtech

When you're faced with a big decision, it's natural to want all of the relevant information right there in front of you so that you can make the best choice possible. And if that included information from hundreds or thousands of other people who've made similar decisions — and the results of those decisions — wouldn't that help immensely?

That's big data, in a nutshell — an enormous amount of information gathered from many sources, compiled in a computing system and run through advanced analytics and algorithms to reveal underlying trends and patterns.

Using big data in healthcare could change the future of diabetes and other health conditions.

Big Data and Precision Medicine

On the healthcare front, big data has helped source the Electronic Health Record (EHR), a broad record of patient health information culled from doctor's visits, inpatient hospital stays and data from wearable devices. EHR streamlines a provider's workflow by using big data to improve research and patient care. EHR has also been used to develop an algorithm that can, with 82 percent accuracy, determine whether a person would need an inpatient hospitalization a year in advance of the actual admission.

By gathering big data, hospitals can now more quickly identify which patients would benefit from a shift in treatment and potentially preventing serious complications of chronic diseases. This phenomenon of tailor-made medical treatment is called precision medicine — when massive amounts of information are processed and mined for specific patterns, putting patient profiles into sharp relief. For patients that fit a certain profile, a physician can prescribe a certain medication that the data suggests is a better fit or encourage increased monitoring based on the patient's symptoms.

By delivering personalized care, improving patient outcomes and possibly even preventing debilitating complications, big data in healthcare could improve the quality of life for patients, reduce disability from conditions and save millions of dollars spent on healthcare — especially when it comes to chronic conditions such as diabetes.

Big Data and the Future of Diabetes

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9 percent of the U.S. population has diabetes. The need for valuable insight into treating and managing the disease is more pressing than ever. A broad approach to data analysis can help healthcare providers better understand the disease, its attendant prognoses and the potential complications it presents.

Big data analysis is predicated on large amounts of data, and people with diabetes are creating a huge amount of data just by living their daily lives. Glucometers create data; so do wearable exercise monitors, smart blood pressure cuffs, Bluetooth-enabled bathroom scales and smart insulin pens.

The FreeStyle® Libre flash glucose monitoring system, for instance, allows people with diabetes to track their glucose levels in real time, with ease and without fingersticks1. And when using the FreeStyle LibreLink iPhone app2, which was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in conjunction with their monitor, they're able to access reports that show how well they're managing their glucose and review their glucose levels from the past 90 days. All of this data can also be shared easily with their doctor and diabetes support team.

Technologies such as the FreeStyle Libre system are a prime example of how big data can transform diabetes management. Not only can they help people improve their glucose control and better manage their condition, but they also generate a wealth of information. Aggregating, analyzing and interpreting that information can lead to best practices that can be distilled into actionable changes to help people live their best lives.

Big data has the potential to be the next wave of improvement for disease management, and though the technology is still somewhat in its infancy, we can already see some of the benefits of machine learning and artificial intelligence in the agriculture and healthcare fields. The future of diabetes is looking brighter every day because of breakthroughs in this growing field.

Fingersticks are required for treatment decisions when you see Check Blood Glucose symbol, when symptoms do not match system readings, when you suspect readings may be inaccurate, or when you experience symptoms that may be due to high or low blood glucose.

2The FreeStyle LibreLink app is compatible with iPhone 7 and later running iOS 11 and later. Use of the FreeStyle LibreLink app requires registration with LibreView, a service provided by Abbott and Newyu, Inc.

Indications and Important Safety Information

The FreeStyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring system is a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device indicated for replacing blood glucose testing and detecting trends and tracking patterns aiding in the detection of episodes of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, facilitating both acute and long-term therapy adjustments in persons (age 18 and older) with diabetes. The system is intended for single patient use and requires a prescription.


CONTRAINDICATIONS: Remove the sensor before MRI, CT scan, X-ray, or diathermy treatment.


WARNINGS/LIMITATIONS: Do not ignore symptoms that may be due to low or high blood glucose, hypoglycemic unawareness, or dehydration. Check sensor glucose readings with a blood glucose meter when Check Blood Glucose symbol appears, when symptoms do not match system readings, or when readings are suspected to be inaccurate. The FreeStyle Libre system does not have alarms unless the sensor is scanned, and the system contains small parts that may be dangerous if swallowed. The FreeStyle Libre system is not approved for pregnant women, persons on dialysis, or critically-ill population. Sensor placement is not approved for sites other than the back of the arm and standard precautions for transmission of blood borne pathogens should be taken. The built-in blood glucose meter is not for use on dehydrated, hypotensive, in shock, hyperglycemic-hyperosmolar state, with or without ketosis, neonates, critically-ill patients, or for diagnosis or screening of diabetes. Review all product information before use or contact Abbott Toll Free (855-632-8658) or visit for detailed indications for use and safety information.


For full indications for use and safety information, see more here.


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