The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that people in England and Wales can get a wearable device – termed an artificial pancreas – on the NHS if their diabetes is not adequately controlled by their current pump or glucose monitor.
‘With around 10% of the entire NHS budget being spent on diabetes, it is important to focus on what matters most by ensuring the best value for money technologies are available to healthcare professionals and patients,’ said Professor Jonathan Benger, chief medical officer at NICE.
The device is a hybrid closed-loop system that uses a hi-tech algorithm to determine the amount of insulin that should be administered and reads blood sugar levels to keep them steady.
It works via a continuous glucose monitor sensor attached to the body which transmits data to a body-worn insulin pump. This pump then calculates how much insulin is needed and delivers the precise amount to the body.
Hybrid closed-loop systems mean people do not need to rely on finger-prick blood tests or injecting insulin to control their blood sugar levels.
Living with type 1 diabetes can be relentless, health experts say, and requires intense management 24 hours a day. Hundreds of individual treatment decisions must be made around the clock as extreme blood glucose highs and lows can be fatal.
Automating this manual process could lift the relentless burden for patients and medical professionals.
‘Hybrid closed-loop defines a new era for medicine,’ said Karen Addington, chief executive of JDRF UK, a type 1 diabetes charity.
‘It’s a beautiful algorithm, which will save lives and heartbreak, as well as in the long-term saving NHS the cost of cardiovascular and retinal surgery, kidney dialysis and transplantation.’
With more than 400,000 people living with type 1 diabetes in the UK, this innovation comes at a critical time, and has the potential to ‘transform the lives of children and adults with type 1 diabetes,’ said Ms Addington.