Hiten Chawla, MBA: Changing the Diabetes Game with New Devices, Telehealth


How telehealth-friendly devices could change standard of diabetes care — with the help of physicians, patients, and the overall health care system.

Following the news of expanded market indication for a closed loop hybrid pump system into pediatric patients, Medtronic had more good news to share at the 2018 American Diabetes Association (ADA) 78th Scientific Sessions in Orlando, FL.

Hiten Chawla, MBA, vice president of Global Marketing, Advanced Insulin Management for the medical device company, teased the forthcoming debut of telehealth program Inner Circle. Though details are still limited, the company's venture into telehealth-friendly devices — such as the remote access and control evident in the recently-expanded MiniMed 670G hybrid closed loop system — provide an idea of where they and their competitors are eyeing the next trend of diabetes care.

Chawla sat down with MD Mag while at ADA 2018 to explain how the priorities of medical devices have grown from efficacy and safety to include adherence and patient access in the telehealth era.

MD Mag: How important is the development of diabetes insulin devices that improve treatment adherence in patients?

Hiten Chawla, MBA: The question that you asked, Kevin, specifically around adherence issues is a critical one, because diabetes ends up being a pretty involved kind of disease state. And so for that, we have something that we're talking about which we call our Inner Circle program. It’s a gamification

engagement program that we're involving with our devices.

It's not just going to be a device solution, it has to be engaging the patients with it, so that clinicians as a result see the outcomes that we were looking for. So, we're very excited about a program called Inner Circle. You'll hear more about it in the next few weeks as well. But the combination of market-leading technology along with programs such as Inner Circle will enable us to actually overcome the barriers, so to speak, as we talk about adherence.

What role does telehealth play in diabetes care?

I think that one has to understand the components of what is required in terms of telehealth. one is on the device manufacturer side, or the medical device provider side, and so that's coming from connectivity. When you look at devices that have the ability to communicate directly to the cloud, have data that is available to the physicians to look at real-time or before the patient has to

come in — that's the first component, We'll talk a little bit about that.

The second component is really the healthcare system, because when you look at telehealth, one has to be able to understand how is the system going to reimburse a physician for the time that they spent, when it's not actually a physician’s patient coming into a physician's office.

And the third component is what happens in between all of those visits — how do you actually engage the physician and patient and make sure that the outcomes are achieved? So maybe, if I have to break that down on the device side, as with our smart CGM Guardian Connect system, it is Bluetooth-enabled. The system continuously talks to the transmitter and communicates to the cloud.

The data is available to the physician in that sense. Our MiniMed 670G system has various components to it. It has a pump, it has a transmitter, it has a paired meter — all of which components have to be Bluetooth-enabled as well.

So in the near future, that's a development that we are working on, so that all of our devices have the ability to take the data from what's on the device or on the patient, and take it to the cloud.

So that's the first component. The second component is where health care is actually headed. It’s the industry’s responsibility to ensure that, in an environment where we're bursting at our seams enabled in order to enable the patients to have time with their with their physicians and then be able to take action that the system adjusts to enabling telehealth to happen.

So that's the second component, and then the third is engagement. So if telehealth was to happen, how do you ensure that the patient actually has the self-motivation to work? That’s why programs such as Inner Circle or devices that are easier to use and provide patients the motivation to see that how well they are doing is critical.

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