T1D, Type 1 diabetes is on the rise, particularly among young people.
According to International Diabetes Federation 2019 data, over 1.1 million adolescents and children live with type 1 diabetes. More than 20 million live births, one in six live births, are affected with diabetes during pregnancy. And more than 374 million people are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes (1).
A 2020 study revealed that Indian youth are also at an increased risk for diabetes (2). Another study in London observed alarming data that there had been double numbers of children diagnosed with T1D at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, indicating a possible link between the diseases (3).
Technological interventions such as mobile apps help manage the condition (4). Now, the industry is trending towards technology instead of pharmaceutical solutions.
The Health Tech Revolution
With baby boomers living longer and the pandemic putting healthcare in the center stage, life sciences and healthcare is more important than ever. The big tech corporations are making huge investments in healthcare technology, and VCs and private equity groups have also started to back the industry (5).
The coronavirus pandemic has devastated several industries. However, health tech and healthcare have remained a growing investment sector even during the turbulent time.
The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the utilization of digital health devices, diagnostics, systems, remote communications, and patient treatment and care monitoring solutions. It has also propelled the use of machine learning and Ai to create drugs at an unprecedented speed.
Such changes in technology and clinical practices will continue even after the pandemic while improving outcomes for patients, increasing efficiencies, and offering better care for several people. And today, some of the most exciting areas in the health tech industry include digital health apps, IOMT, Internet of Medical Things, and longevity and wellness treatments.
The Diabetes Management Apps Market
Digital health apps or mobile health technology include BP monitors and mobile hearts, cognitive development apps, wearables with fitness programs, and more. The UK NHS promoted the use of mobile care and connectivity products as it believes it can help save more than 500k lives annually because of early disease detection and improved health.
The coronavirus pandemic further highlighted the requirement for patients’ remote monitoring and telemedicine, especially with the aged-population segment.
Such apps and digital devices reduce the patients’ need to visit clinics and care work home visits to the elderly. Notably, their popularity is also surging among the younger, fitness-conscious generations who use such apps for training (6).
As per a market research report published by GME, Global Market Estimates, in January 2021, the diabetes management applications market will grow with a CAGR value of 24.5% by 2026 (7).
The driving forces of this market’s growth include:
- the increasing number of diabetic patients across the world
- rising preference for early diagnosis
- the surge in demand for mobile health apps
- the heavy impact of coronavirus on the doctor-patient visit for regular health and blood sugar check
- rising penetration of the internet and smartphones in the emerging economies
- advancements in diabetes diagnosis and monitoring management
- rising funding for creating digital mobile applications for sugar check and diabetes diet management
As per the report, the digital management service segment would hold a huge share of the market compared to pharmaceutical solutions, considering the surge in interest and patients’ preference for real-time blood sugar monitoring apps and increasing awareness about early diagnosis of the condition.
It is also worth highlighting that diabetes is one of the most common lifestyle disorders, with a prevalence of 9.3% population worldwide, which is almost 460 million individuals.
There are several existing and popular apps with carbohydrate counting tools such as Carb Manager (about eight million registered users) and apps such as mySugr (about three million registered users) to monitor blood glucose levels. Other primary players of the market include DarioHealth, Welldoc, LifeScan, Fooducate, Glooko Inc., Beat Diabetes, Diabetes: M, One Drop Tactio Health Group, Medisana, AgaMatrix, Medtronic, Azumio, BioTelemetry, ContourNextOne, Abbott, Sanofi-Aventis, BHI Technologies, Distal Thoughts, and Maxwell Software among others.
MySugr, founded in 2012, is a digital health company based in Europe aiming to simplify life with diabetes. The mySugr app, combined with integrated medical devices, empowers people with diabetes with a comprehensive self-management package. It includes the mySugr app, insulin calculator, diabetes coach, doctor reports, a connected blood sugar meter with home-delivered unlimited test strips. It is also worth highlighting that many companies have lived with diabetes, several since their childhood.
The company has secured over 6.6 million USD over three funding rounds. It had last secured capital in March 2015 from its Series A round led by iSeed Ventures and Roche Venture Fund (8).
Glooko is a US-based SaaD firm for diabetes management. It is a universal diabetes platform founded in 2010, offers insights to improve results for people with diabetes and their care teams. Glooko connects the most popular diabetes devices, fitness, and activity trackers around the globe and offers personalized and timely patient information like insulin, food, glucose level, medications, diet, blood pressure, and weight data.
Since its inception, Glooko has secured a total of 101 million USD funding in seven rounds. The latest funding round was in March 2021 from a Series D round led by Insulet and Georgian (9).
Fooducate allows diabetic patients to see a food product’s nutrition grade via a barcode app, enabling users to make healthier choices. Since its inception in 2009, Foodcate had secured a 50k USD overseed funding round in November 2010 (10).
Blood Sugar Monitor by Dario
DarioHealth is a digital therapeutics firm engaged in the creation and commercialization of patented and proprietary technology. It offers consumers laboratory-testing capacities via smartphones and other digital devices.
The Dario Blood Sugar Monitor is a mobile, cloud-based, real-time diabetes management solution based on a multi-featured software app combined with a blood glucose monitoring device.
Since its inception in 2011, DarioHealth has secured a total of 169 million USD in funding over seventeen rounds. Its latest funding round was in January 2021, a Post-IPO Equity round led by Driehaus Capital Management and Farallon Capital Management.
The company has also acquired two organizations, the most recent was wayForward on May 2021, for 25 million USD (11).
Health2Sync, the Taiwan-based company founded in 2013, creates a system that transforms smartphones into legacy medical and smart health monitoring devices. Its smart blood glucose app and accessory also connect users, families, and clinicians.
So far, it has secured over 10.5 million USD in funding over five rounds. Its last funding round for non-equity assistance was in January 2019, led by Alibaba Group and Taiwan Startup Stadium (12).
One Drop, a New York-based company founded in 2014, is a diabetes management platform that helps users navigate the condition. It allows people to help people with diabetes maintain a running log of their insulin levels, their medication’s effectiveness, and what kind of activities affect their blood sugar on an everyday basis.
It has secured a total of 106.2 million USD in eight funding rounds. OneDrop last secured fund in August 2020 from a Series C funding round led by Bayer and RRE Ventures. The company had also acquired Sano last year (13).
MyFitnessPal, a US-based company founded in 2005, is a health smartphone app that tracks exercise, diet, and nutrition. The app offers powerful tools to make it easier for users to live healthier lives by tracking physical activity and meals. It utilizes gamification elements to motivate them. Users can scan the barcodes of different food items to track nutrients and add them manually via the app’s large pre-existing database. It allows users to keep their carbs in check while also helping them meet their weight goals.
MyFitnessPal has secured over 18 million USD in funding so far. Its last Series A funding round was in August 2013, led by Kleiner Perkins and Lee Linden. It had also acquired Sessions back in February 2014 (14).
The Lucrative Opportunities
Although there is a huge range of successful apps catering to Type 1 Diabetes, it is a complex condition that affects everything from libido to gum health. Hence, there are plenty of unaddressed pain points, including but not limited to disease management, mental health, and youth.
As per a study conducted in 2018 (15), the communication between patients and their healthcare providers is a critical component of T1D management. However, the nonattendance of appointments is a major issue (16).
One opportunity is a T1D-specific patient platform that connects all the health care professionals in a diabetic’s care team and catalogs everything from injection-site to blood results.
There are also opportunities for a messaging platform that connects T1D patients directly to a diabetes educator or nurse for help with real-time care on decisions like dosing.
According to MHA, Mental Health America, diabetic patients are twice as likely to develop depression (17) and eating disorders such as Diabulimia (18) compared to non-diabetic individuals.
One could create a TalkSpace or Happify for diabetics, an application that focuses on the mental burden of diabetes management via mentoring users for personalized goals and connecting them with support groups and mental health professionals.
As we noted, over 1.1 million adolescents and children live with type 1 diabetes. Over 20 million live birth, one in six live births, are affected with diabetes during pregnancy. And more than 374 million people are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
While young individuals have an especially difficult time managing their diabetic condition, only a few apps target this niche. One such example is Happy Bob which offers blood glucose trend data in bright colors with changing smiley emojis. Another platform, Invincible, helps teachers attend for students with T1D conditions during school hours.
Other ideas for apps include:
- Offering guidance on managing glucose considering sleeping hours, school or social stress, hormonal changes, and alcohol consumption.
- Gamification of glucose management.
- Educating newly diagnosed diabetics on the biology of the condition and “health numeracy” to assist them with the glucose data interpretation.
Businesses can also serve young adults from minority groups with apps that offer multiple languages and cuisine-specific carbohydrate counting tools. One can also cater to T1D travelers with carb-counting tools for popular foods at the destination or applications to manage the effects of changes in the time zone on injection schedules.
With the rise of more connected smart diabetes tools such as digital insulin pens, mobile app-enabled insulin pumps, and app-enabled CGM systems, we are witnessing a surge in the utilization of diabetes apps in the clinical space.
And as the market progresses, it would need newer and more comprehensive smartphone app-based solutions beyond the basics of monitoring and keeping records. With new technologies, entrepreneurs can develop and offer smart therapeutics that deliver personalized treatment suggestions to patients by machine-based algorithms.
New players in the space can gain the most by constantly evolving their existing offerings and introducing new products in the market. Businesses that would consider a patient-centered approach rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all idea will get the maximum benefits of the rising trend in the future.