Technology is constantly improving to provide better ways to manage diabetes. Traditional tools with basic functions such as measuring blood sugar or administering insulin are now being updated with algorithms that can help you make treatment decisions and upload and share your data (e.g., blood sugar levels, insulin doses).
People with type 1 diabetes (T1D) who give themselves manual injections will soon have access to smart pens. These devices will wirelessly send and save insulin delivery data to a smart phone for tracking purposes.
These new tools include:
- Smart pens with refillable insulin cartridges
- Smart caps and attachments for pre-filled and disposable pens
Smart caps and attachments
How useful is it really?
While technology may sometimes seem complex, this new generation of smart pens and accessories should expand the options available to people with T1D for managing their insulin.
With the automatic logging of insulin delivery data, users will be able to check whether a dose has been administered or whether the wrong dose was given, and receive an alert if they forget to take an injection.
Some devices will be able to be paired with the mobile apps of certain continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems (e.g., Dexcom, Freestyle Libre) for data transmission. Users will then have the option to generate a visual summary of insulin delivery and blood sugar data to help identify any trends or necessary adjustments, and share this information with their healthcare team.
Combined blood sugar and insulin delivery data will also enable smart pens to use an algorithm to calculate the amount of insulin that is still acting in the body (active insulin) or a suggested bolus, similar to what insulin pumps currently do.
Fingers crossed for summer 2022
Some of these technologies are already available in the United States, and should start entering the Canadian market over the summer. It’s still too early to have any details on potential RAMQ or private insurance coverage. Health Canada must approve any application used with a device before it’s made available to download on smart phones in Canada.
- Sangave, Nikhil A et al. “Smart Connected Insulin Pens, Caps, and Attachments: A Review of the Future of Diabetes Technology.” Diabetes spectrum : a publication of the American Diabetes Association vol. 32,4 (2019): 378-384. doi:10.2337/ds18-0069