Medtronic has introduced an engagement program designed to improve outcomes for patients with diabetes in the U.S.
The program, Medtronic Inner Circle, uses gamification principles to encourage patients to adopt behaviors that increase the time they spend in the optimal glycemic range.
Medtronic is pitching the program at users of its MiniMed 670G and Guardian Connect smart CGM systems who want to better manage their care.
A combination of commercial and therapeutic challenges are combining to make diabetes a proving ground for novel technologies. On the therapeutic front, managing diabetes is a tough challenge for patients. If a patient is unable to adequately control their condition, they can suffer harmful health complications. Equally, intense competition in the diabetes market means companies are searching for anything that can give them a commercial edge.
Recognizing these opportunities and unmet needs, device makers including Medtronic are designing digital technologies to improve disease management, while insulin suppliers such as Eli Lilly are branching out into medtech. All these companies recognize that patients need more than medicines and simple glucose readings to effectively manage their conditions.
Now, Medtronic has introduced the next piece of its strategy, Inner Circle. The program awards users points for the time they spend in the target glycemic range, 70-180 mg/dL. The longer a patient stays in a desired range, the more points they accumulate.
Patients will be able to redeem their points, but at this stage it is unclear what value they will possess. Medtronic referred to "clinical and economic benefits for health systems" and a "potential employer opportunity" when it unveiled the program at an investor day in June, suggesting these groups could reward patients for points to encourage behaviors that reduce the cost of healthcare. The company has yet to flesh out this idea publicly, though.
Medtronic has been more forthcoming about how it sees Inner Circle slotting into its broader suite of digital technologies, including diabetes assistant Sugar.IQ.
"We believe through the combination of Sugar.IQ's digital assistance and Inner Circle's gamification and positive reinforcement, we can actually drive better adherence and engagement and ultimately achieve better outcomes," Hooman Hakami, president of Medtronic's diabetes group, said at the June investor day.
The development of the digital technologies reflects a belief that Medtronic must do more than just provide and display blood glucose readings. If Medtronic is to improve outcomes and differentiate itself, it must also help patients understand why their glucose levels change and motivate them to act on these insights.