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Tech gurus will discuss how patients’ devices can be leveraged to increase physical activity


Estimated Read Time:

3 minutes

Ashutosh Sabharwal, PhD
Ashutosh Sabharwal, PhD

Smartphones. Smart watches. Fitness trackers. The adoption of these devices continues to expand, presenting an opportunity for clinicians to leverage the data collected by the devices to improve patient outcomes.

A panel of experts will discuss the possibilities these technologies offer during the virtual presentation Using Technologies to Track Physical Activity and Improve Health, which will begin at 2:00 p.m. CT Friday, June 12, on the first day of the Scientific Sessions.

Ashutosh Sabharwal, PhD, Chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice University, will demonstrate how data measured by wearable devices and phones can provide valuable patient context, which could aid clinicians in personalizing patient encounters and interventions.

“Physicians have to contend with patients with diverse living contexts,” Dr. Sabharwal said. “I will explore two important patient contexts for mental health—overall mobility and sociability. I will share data from three studies that look at depression, a common comorbidity in diabetes. Depression impacts both mobility and socialization. Our studies show that the data from smartphone and wearable sensors could provide a valuable proxy for a person’s mobility and sociability patterns.”

Dessi Zaharieva, PhD
Dessi Zaharieva, PhD

Dessi Zaharieva, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow in endocrinology and metabolism at York University in Toronto, Canada, will discuss physically activity as it relates to artificial pancreas systems and continuous glucose monitoring. Despite clear evidence of the health benefits of regular physical activity, Dr. Zaharieva said patients with type 1 diabetes tend to engage in fewer minutes of activity per day and are more likely to be overweight compared to their peers without type 1 diabetes.

Dr. Zaharieva will review current and novel activity tracking initiatives, the use of continuous glucose monitoring devices, and smart insulin delivery systems that make regular physical activity more appealing and safer for people living with type 1 diabetes. She will also provide insight into what physical activity tracking can reveal about patient populations and how clinicians can interpret the data.

“Advancements in technology continue to improve diabetes care and can reduce the burden of living with this condition,” Dr. Zaharieva said. “I hope attendees will gain a greater appreciation for the importance of physical activity tracking in diabetes and understand the strengths and limitations of additional physiological signals in closed loop technology.”

David Kerr, MD, Director of Research and Innovation at Sansum Diabetes Research Institute, will expand on the data presented by Drs. Sabharwal and Zaharieva. He will examine how data from wearable technologies can help clinicians stratify the type 2 diabetes patient population.

David Kerr, MD
David Kerr, MD

“I’m going to suggest that we need to move away from looking at the type 2 diabetes population as a single community,” Dr. Kerr said. “If you give people trackers, they behave differently according to a number of influences. It’s important when prescribing physical activity to understand there are different behaviors associated with it. If you look at physical activity in combination with other lifestyle influences, such as food and sleep, you can differentiate the risk of premature mortality based on how much patients buy in to the benefits of things like physical activity, nutrition, and sleep.”

Dr. Kerr said the use of wearable technologies will continue to grow, providing clinicians with an opportunity to increase the number of people who benefit from physical activity and also to increase rates of their physical activity.

“We’re at the beginning of a revolution,” he said. “We should consider incorporating fitness trackers and other devices to create a smart, digital diabetes ecosystem that works in tandem with pharmacological and nutritional interventions.”


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