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Artificial Intelligence: Dexcom and Abbott are each partnering with Insulet to create an automated insulin delivery system

Artificial Intelligence:

Medtech giants Dexcom and Abbott tied up with insulin pump maker Insulet in separate partnerships that involve integrating Insulet’s Omnipod insulin delivery system with their continuous glucose monitors (CGMs), according to MobiHealthNews.

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For context, CGMs keep tabs on diabetics’ blood sugar levels throughout the day and alert them of unsafe levels, and Insulet’s system utilizes a tube-free, wearable “Pod” that delivers insulin to patients for 72 hours at a time.

Both Insulet partnerships build on the competing medtech giants’ efforts to build out their portfolio of connected tech offerings.

Dexcom’s move suggests that it’s iterating its offerings in preparation to start selling its CGM products directly to consumers. In late January, Dexcom CEO Kevin Sayer noted that the medtech giant would “at some point in time… launch a direct-to-consumer effort” for its CGM systems. For context, Dexcom currently reaches US patients by way of their insurance.

And Dexcom is starting to iterate its products to be more attractive to consumers: The medtech titan will integrate Insulet’s system with two of its CGM systems, enabling patients to automatically adjust their insulin doses from their smartphones. And on top of that, we think that Dexcom’s position as a leader in the CGM space — and the consumer mindshare accompanying it — combined with its plans for a limited rollout of a lower-cost CGM some time this year put the medtech titan in good shape to lure potential customers to a future DTC CGM system.

And the Insulet tie-up follows Abbott’s recent win with the FDA in the connected device space — making it a fast-growing competitor among medtech giants pursuing the market. Data from Abbott’s CGM will be sent to Insulet’s wearable insulin pump, which will automatically adjust users’ insulin delivery accordingly.

Customers can can also use a smartphone app to deliver additional doses of fast-acting insulin before meals. This integration comes on the heels of Abbott’s expanded FDA clearance for its connected Deep Brain Stimulation system for Parkinson’s — and Abbott’s progress in the connected device space could give it a competitive edge in this market, which represents one of the fastest-growing segments in medicine.

Medtech companies have been working to create an automated insulin delivery system that requires minimal action from patients — and these integrations put both firms one step closer to this goal. We’ve seen medtech companies go toe-to-toe in their efforts to develop a closed-loop system — or “artificial pancreas” —  to more effectively manage diabetes.

For context, a closed-looped system leverages a CGM and an insulin pump to control a patient’s insulin levels with little action required from the patient. We saw medtech competitor Medtronic earn FDA breakthrough designation in February 2019 for its closed-loop system that utilizes AI to personalize the artificial pancreas for users, for example.

The recent Insulet tie-ups are concrete next steps for both Dexom and Abbott in developing a viable artificial pancreas — and if either can launch their integrated system to a wide audience, they’d quickly become attractive partners for insurers: A viable artificial pancreas could significantly reduce the $237 billion the US spends on diabetes care annually — which insurers would likely find appealing as they work to slash their portion of spending on members with diabetes.

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