History proves that crisis is the mother of invention, which is also true for the healthcare field. With the increasing incidence rates of diabetes among the Mexican population, new developments are necessary to address the many problems affecting the continuum of care, including prevention, diagnosis, and disease management. Such is the case of GlucosAlarm – a patent pending device that is placed inside the toilet bowl to measure glucose levels in the urine and that became the indisputable winner at the Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) Competition organized by the US Department of State last Summer.
GlucosAlarm uses high precision peristaltic bombs to collect a small sample of patient’s urine. After mixing it with an enzymatic reagent, the device uses a light sensor that detects the frequency of glucose in urine and measures it. The result is showed and stored in a database or if glucose levels are too high, an alert message is sent to the patient’s mobile phone or to a physician’s. Finally, the device cleans itself to avoid contamination of the next sample.
Carlos Bernal Velázquez, Director General of this startup is confident that GlucosAlarm is a valuable device that will help many people to manage their disease especially when they show lower tendency to self-monitoring. The developmental stage of the device included insights from endocrinologists, diabetes educators, among other experts on the actual problems regarding glucose monitoring and patients’ habits. In addition, according to an article published by Clinical Diabetes, just 5% of people with diabetes receives proper treatment, follows a diet and exercise plan, and measures its glucose level. The same document explains current testing methods are complicated, painful, and expensive, preventing people from self-monitoring constantly. This device offers the possibility to easily monitor glucose levels at home without any pain.
There are 12 million of people living with diabetes in Mexico and around 382 million worldwide. According to the WHO, this number will increase by 55% within the next 20 years to 600 million. As most of the efforts focus on educating diabetic patients on the importance of eating the right food, this device can further help them become aware of the effect certain foods have on their glucose level, which can ultimately be useful to design a more accurate diet plan.
Everything is not perfect though. This device is not able to detect hypoglycemia, which is also a threatening condition for people with diabetes, showing that there is no magic pill or tool that solves all circumstances these patients face and that diabetes requires integral care and collaborative efforts among different actors.