Diabetes affects 30 million people in the US (10% of the population), with an estimated 21 million people still undiagnosed. Once diagnosed with diabetes, patients must begin a complete lifestyle shift - they have to exercise on a regular basis, many track the food they eat, and almost all will begin taking insulin since their bodies either don't produce it or can't use it properly.
We believe there are massively impactful ways technology can improve the lives of diabetics, and we decided to focus on insulin management and two problems that diabetics struggle with relating to insulin:
1) Medical adherence is a huge problem, and specifically with diabetes, we see insulin adherence rates at 60% (Type 2). Many diabetics don't correctly follow the insulin injection schedules given to them by their doctors, leading to ineffective treatment and care as well as wasted money (only 60% adherence for Type 2 diabetes)
2) Even once a diabetic has committed to taking insulin, it's often difficult to determine exactly how much insulin they should take. Currently, there's no easy ways for diabetics to take into account their current blood glucose levels and other personal factors in determining how much insulin to inject.
What it does
Elsa is a end-to-end solution that helps diabetics manage their insulin injection schedule - it includes both a smart insulin pen and a companion app. The companion app pulls blood glucose data from from blood glucose meter APIs to maintain a complete picture of the patient's blood glucose levels. With this data, we are able to be predictive about the amount of insulin the patient needs to take. When the patient wants to inject insulin, they can use our recommended amount or change it, and they simply click a button on the smart pen to administer the insulin (no longer do patients have to fiddle with dials on their insulin pens). The smart pen retrieves the amount to inject from the smartphone app and administers the correct amount of insulin.
How we built it
During PennApps, we built all the hardware and software from scratch. We fabricated the casing and all materials for the pen, designed and assembled the electrical components, and designed and programmed the companion app.
What's next for Elsa Smart Insulin Pen
Our next steps are twofold:
- First, we plan to conduct extensive user studies about the habits of diabetics and how we can serve them best
- Second, we plan to continue development of the smart pen device and begin submission for FDA approval
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