Health and digital technology haven't just converged, they've united into a powerhouse force igniting a fundamental shift in the way people manage their health and access medical care.
Helping drive this movement is Abbott's best-in-class portfolio of biowearable technologies. This portfolio includes continuous glucose monitoring tech — the FreeStyle Libre system — and future technology still in development, including a first-of-its-kind continuous glucose-ketone monitoring system for people with diabetes and a new category of consumer biowearables for people without the chronic condition.
We spoke to Jared Watkin, senior vice president of Abbott's diabetes care business, about the FreeStyle Libre system — the technology that laid the foundation for the company's biosensor innovations — what's next for that portfolio, how it's driving the future of biowearables and what that future could look like.
What separates the FreeStyle Libre portfolio from other CGM tech on the market?
The design approach we took from the very early days. We wanted to make a continuous glucose sensor as affordable as possible and translate that to the marketplace so it could reach far more people than the technology had ever reached before. And it has. Now, more than 4 million people in over 60 countries are using the FreeStyle Libre system.
How do you keep the FreeStyle Libre system accessible and affordable?
The 14-day life of the sensor is key. The longer the sensor lasts, the fewer sensors a person has to buy and the more affordable the technology is on a monthly basis. We also spent a lot of time making sure the sensor was easy to apply and wear, and that the system's user interface was simple for people who use it every day.
How is the FreeStyle Libre portfolio impacting your latest innovations in biosensor technology?
When we created the FreeStyle Libre technology, we always knew it could be used for more than glucose and could reach beyond people with diabetes. Glucose was our priority and will still be a major focus for us, but now we're extending that platform to more people. We're taking the expertise that comes from having more than 4 million people using our technology and building on it.
We're currently developing a dual sensor that will enable people with diabetes to continuously measure both glucose and ketones in the same sensor. And we're developing Lingo, our line of consumer biowearables, that will give people real-time data, personalized insights, education and resources.
Complete this sentence: The health tech convergence is ... Making health more accessible to more people. It's giving them information about their bodies that’s easy to understand and giving them more freedom and control over their health and day-to-day decisions.
What's the future of the FreeStyle Libre technology?
We're innovating next generation technology to continue helping people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes better manage their condition. We also see an interest in using our technology to measure analytes beyond glucose — ketones, lactate and alcohol — in people who don't have diabetes.
In 10 years, where will biosensor technology be?
Helping optimize treatment for chronic diseases beyond diabetes and giving people personalized information to improve their health outcomes. I think this technology will move into wellness, helping people slow pre-diabetes and, in some cases, prevent diabetes all together. We will treat for health, rather than treat for disease.