Diabetes is a growing health problem, one often complicated by the complications of monitoring and managing the disease. Here we talk to Christian Krey, CEO of Emperra GmbH E-Health Technologies and winner of Business Worldwide’s 2016 Company of the Year Awards/Medical Device Industry Europe, about their innovative diabetes management system.

One of the major challenges in global health care is diabetes, with growing numbers of affected people and a huge cost burden for the health care systems. The International Diabetes Federation estimates that there are 415 million people with diabetes worldwide, with that figure set to grow to 642 million by 2040. They also estimate that 1 in 2 adults with diabetes remains undiagnosed, a problem likely to cause a ballooning of health costs as diabetes-related complications emerge. Around $673 billion, or 12% of the global healthcare budget, is spent on diabetes.

Emperra GmbH E-Health Technologies is a research and development-focused medical technology start-up company from Potsdam that offers innovative concepts and solutions in the fields of e-health technology and tele-diabetology. Emperra combines innovative software with groundbreaking hardware and integrates these into a medical and scientific concept aimed at providing doctors, patients, carers and relatives with telemedicine-based product systems.

BWM caught up with Emperra’s CEO Christian Krey to find out a bit more about their eHealth approach. 

So what does Emperra do?
The growing number of people with diabetes in the world needs to be addressed with more comprehensive solutions. The physician as well as the patient needs to have all the information at hand to make decisions about the adjustment of the therapy.

Currently, almost all of this information is collected by the patient, and it ends up in a written diary that tends not to be very complete, hardly readable, and sometimes even wrong!

We should not be surprised that 40% – 60% of people with diabetes do not reach their individual diabetes targets. Poor monitoring leads to secondary complications, which heavily affect the patient’s quality of life as well as being a cost burden for society.

With ESYSTA(R) we offer a comprehensive solution that combines modern hardware as well as connecting software for physicians and patients or their diabetes care team. The data is transferred fully automatically without any additional effort of the patient. The collected data includes blood glucose readings as well as information about insulin dosage or carbohydrate intake. Different devices work in the ESYSTA system together. The ESYSTA blood glucose meter measures the glucose levels in the blood, while the ESYSTA pen is used to inject the insulin. The ESYSTA insulin adapter is used to make all available insulin cartridges from different insulin companies fit into the ESYSTA pen.

Can you tell us a bit more about your system of data collection?
The main part of the ESYSTA(R) solution is a web-based portal. With the patient’s consent, the treating physician and his team can gain online access to the data.

The patient will use both the ESYSTA(R) blood glucose meter and the ESYSTA(R) Insulin pen to transfer data. The insulin pen can, of course, be used with all major insulins that are available on the market.  Both devices can store up to 1.000 data points. Once they are near the ESYSTA(R) Basis station, then the devices transfer the data automatically via this router encrypted to the server.

The recorded insulin doses and blood glucose values are clearly portrayed in graphic form, and a traffic light system indicates the status of the patient’s metabolic control. The clear analysis and graphical representation of the data mean that doctors can focus on problem areas and explain the relationships between the individual values much more effectively to patients. They have more time for their patients, and the high-quality analysis of data means that diabetes management improves considerably.

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What kind of evidence can you show to demonstrate the effectiveness of this system?
The seamless documentation of insulin units and blood glucose values is an important cornerstone of diabetes therapy. Many people with diabetes measure their blood glucose and inject insulin several times a day. For the best possible metabolic management, data must be continuously documented and analysed.

Both for the doctor and the patient, this can be a tedious undertaking. In a field trial carried out in collaboration with a health insurance provider, the ESYSTA® system was tested in everyday practice situations on over 200 insulin-dependent diabetics.

To summarise the results simply, over a period of twelve months, a mean reduction in the HbA1c value of 0.9% points was achieved without any increase in the number of hypoglycaemic episodes. What this means is a clearly lower risk of secondary complications, which is great news for patient care.

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Source: Dresden University of Technology, Faculty of Medicine, Centre for Evidence-Based Healthcare, final analysis, June 2015

How does Emperra differ from other diabetes management solutions?
Most companies only provide a part of the solution; for example, they only offer blood glucose readings, or software solutions, or coaching. There´s no smart insulin pen available that can be downloaded wirelessly to get important information about insulin dosing. We offer the whole range of therapy information that would normally be collected by the patient.

Our system is therefore specifically adapted to the nature of the illness and also people’s lifestyles and capabilities because everything you need is one place.

What are the biggest advantages you can offer to health insurers and payers?
As I say, we offer a complete solution. This solution is based not only on developing hardware and software for diabetes management. We also offer patient coaching and pay-for-performance business models.

What are your plans?
We started in Germany where the hardware can simply be prescribed, and we get reimbursed by all health insurers. We are currently preparing for geographical expansion in other European markets. Also, we will file for Food and Drug Agency (FDA) approval this year to start commercialization in the US from 2017.

We are very enthusiastic about our products and believe our services, instituted worldwide, could make a big difference to diabetes management and diabetes-related complications. We are determined to find solutions to these major healthcare challenges. That’s our goal. It’s an important one; I’m sure you agree.