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November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and Nov. 14 is World Diabetes Day.
For millions of people living with diabetes, the daily routine of finger pricks and insulin injections has become a way of life.
The good news: New innovations will continue to improve the way people with diabetes manage the disease - and with less burdensome methods.
Diabetes is one of the fastest-growing epidemics with nearly 30 million people in the U.S. diagnosed and another 86 million diagnosed with pre-diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.
"Diabetes is one of the fastest-growing epidemics."
What's most surprising is that 30 percent of people with diabetes in the U.S. don't know they have the disease. In fact, many don't know until they visit their doctor for a related symptom.
That's exactly what happened to Centreville, Virginia, resident Michael Lawson in the summer of 2009.
Lawson, 53, suffered a minor cut on his foot while swimming in a public pool. By Thanksgiving, the wound became so infected he ended up in the emergency room.
That's when Lawson learned why his initial wound wasn't healing properly - he had type 2 diabetes, and the circulation to his feet was compromised. This was the start of Lawson's daily regimen of blood glucose testing and medications.
"My current daily routine is time-consuming, and requires exhaustive monitoring," Lawson said. "Since I also have high blood pressure, when I first wake in the morning, it is not only a diabetes monitoring routine but blood pressure screening followed by daily dosages of medications, vitamins and supplements."
Today, new technological advancements put greater focus on minimizing the burden of managing diabetes and improving outcomes.
For instance, to reduce painful finger pricking, Google worked with Novartis to patent its digital contact lenses in 2014.
If and when brought to market, the lenses will use sensors to analyze people's tears, detecting glucose levels and delivering results to an associated app as often as every second.
But advanced systems that take action are perhaps the most promising diabetes-device innovations.
Medtronic is on the cutting edge of this trend with its SmartGuard technology that fights low blood sugar, addressing one of the biggest challenges of diabetes.
"Collaborative research synergies are being leveraged more than ever to expedite therapy."
With the growing diabetes epidemic, it's clear why UPS has prioritized investments in supply chain solutions to support diabetes care.
Diabetes never rests, so quickly delivering products, such as Medtronic insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors (CGM), is critical.
UPS has a 1.4 million-square-foot healthcare campus in Louisville where medical equipment is packed, labeled and shipped overnight to patients' homes.
Medical research is making progress toward a cure for diabetes. One needs to only look at the transformative work at the Diabetes Research Institute to see how the rise in scientific collaboration is moving to end diabetes for good.
Sharing of data and resources, as well as collaborative research synergies around the world, are being leveraged now more than ever to expedite therapy breakthroughs.
Until a cure is found, other synergies will keep transforming how people with diabetes monitor and manage the disease - and even how critical healthcare products are delivered to patients.
Diabetes should not keep people like Michael Lawson from living their best life, and through innovation and collaboration, the fight against this illness will continue on many fronts.
Photo: MiniMed 670G insulin pump, courtesy of Medtronic.
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