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Diabetes

A personalized and continuing patient monitoring

The stakes are high. With 425 million adults affected worldwide1, diabetes is a pandemic. This chronic disease is ever-growing, and may affect as many as 629 million people by 20452. The intensive medical supervision required seriously hampers the daily habits and lifestyle of patients. Committed to an ever more effective management of diabetes, Air Liquide provides proximity and knowledge that helps patients live better lives. Objective: to strengthen patient autonomy and to improve treatment compliance through a personalized monitoring structure that aims to limit the risk of complications. Air Liquide is working to make the health system more efficient and virtuous for all.

Involved in the management of diabetes for almost twenty years, Air Liquide accompanies patients throughout their care pathway with an approach that is at once human, expert and technological. Beyond the provision of prescription medical devices (insulin pumps and glucose measurements using readers/sensors), the Group also develops complementary services to support patients at home.

“We are convinced of the importance of patients understanding their medical devices as well as possible to ensure they are used to maximum effect” says Philippe Lecerf, CEO of Dinno Santé, a subsidiary of Air Liquide that is 100% dedicated to the support of diabetic patients. In France, the nursing teams of Air Liquide’s home healthcare units work daily with tens of thousands of patients.

“In addition to supplying blood glucose meters, we also distribute a range of continuous glucose sensors, continues Philippe Lecerf. Glucose information can then be shared with healthcare professionals. Ultimately, using these sensors, insulin pumps will be able to adapt their flow automatically.”

This solution concerns what we call the “artificial pancreas” (or closed-loop system), a project in development in which the Group has invested. The goal of these solutions is to improve the quality of life of the patient while reducing the risk of complications and/or hospitalization related to hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia.

Practical help in everyday life

Air Liquide monitors and assists patients along the entire care pathway, giving them the means to better live with their disease in the best conditions possible. Conforming to regulations, patients with an insulin pump can rely on two annual home visits, a 24/7 call-in system and a hotline staffed with nurse advisors. Air Liquide’s expert nurses provide patients, both adults and children, with information on their pathology and personalized advice and assistance with the use of their medical devices. With the aim of improving treatment compliance  and quality of life, Air Liquide has developed tools that enable personalized monitoring of patients, and innovative educational programs with video tutorials on the use of the pump, the basics of nutrition and physical exercises adapted to the patient’s profile. For example, Dinno Santé has set up an online space dedicated to people affected by diabetes.

“With this type of tool, we want to create a real virtual community of patients, a place to exchange experiences and share good practices,” says Philippe Lecerf. Launched recently, the GlucoZor application is also growing in popularity. Developed  through a partnership between Dinno Santé and the association Aide aux Jeunes Diabétiques, it is aimed at children from 8 to 11 years old. “Through the form of a game, it helps them better understand the effects and management of their diabetes. This application has been translated into several languages and has already been exported internationally, for example to England and Spain,” says Philippe Lecerf.

More generally, the approach of personalized patient support, which brings together the medical device, therapeutic  support and the development of connected tools, is based on an expertise born and consolidated by Air Liquide in France, an influence that is progressively achieving a world scale. This is demonstrated by the partnership formed in 2018 between Air Liquide and the European branch of the International Diabetes Federation, and the acquisition in 2019 of DiaLibre in Spain. This outpatient clinic for diabetic patients based in Madrid is distinguished by its innovative follow-up of patients. A team of health professionals, including doctors, nurses, psychologists and nutritionists, provides individualized support based on physical contact with the patient, as well as digital solutions such as video tutorials, remote consultations, nutritional and psychological advice, online training, coaching and more.

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How does Air Liquide take care of diabetic patients in Europe?

While the pathology of a disease may remain the same from one country to another, lifestyles, food, cultural norms and health systems differ widely. This is why we adapt our offer according to the country and the health system in place, but especially to the patient and their personality and physical condition, among other criteria. Where home health care is concerned, Air Liquide is present across Europe, in France, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom and the Nordic countries... as well as in South Africa and Hong Kong.

How will this support develop in the future?

In Europe, doctors, patients and funding organizations are showing a growing interest in a comprehensive support approach centered around the medical device and focused on the outcome of treatment for the patient. This is the basis of Value-Based Healthcare. We are also seeing the emergence of trials in performance-based remuneration. Our approach is extensively evolving and aims to obtain the best possible compliance rates of the insulin-dependent patient in his or her treatment. It is a win-win situation: with tailor-made coaching, the patient can be better stabilized, the physician can rely on a competent partner committed to treatment compliance, and the funding body should expect to see the costs of treatment of complications greatly reduced. Air Liquide’s ambition is to be remunerated in proportion to the therapeutic results observed in diabetic patients.

What assets does Air Liquide intend to deploy to achieve this ambition?

Air Liquide is, in my opinion, the partner of choice for the implementation of this approach. We have a vast knowledge of medical devices and have been in direct contact with patients for decades, both at their homes and in specialized centers. Our dedicated staff serve as an interface between patients and prescribers. We are familiar with the complex ecosystem, in which we are connected with different players, including patients, prescribers and funding organizations. We have strengthened our expertise in the areas of digital technology and the collection and processing of healthcare data, which is a key driver in Air Liquide’s future strategy.

Close

What does the future hold? Data at the service of medicine

Beyond the digital tools, Air Liquide intends to focus on the collection and processing of health data — in accordance with the rules of confidentiality and European GDPR3 regulations — to help medical professionals follow-up with patients. This is why the Group is participating in the ETAPES4 program, created by the French health authorities to promote initiatives in remote medicine. Since February 2018, Air Liquide has deployed a remote medical monitoring program in France, entitled Chronic Care Connect™. This platform provides remote support for patients suffering from chronic diseases, including diabetes. The patient’s medical devices are connected to a digital tablet, and the data is analyzed by Air Liquide nurses, with the most relevant information and alerts then being sent to the prescribing physician, who provides remote monitoring.

In the future, Air Liquide and healthcare professionals will be able to rely on the data collected by connected medical devices (blood glucose sensors, insulin pumps, etc.) to identify at-risk patients, and require reinforced educational resources, which may include the intervention of a nurse at the patient’s home.

By personalizing support according to the profile of the patient, Air Liquide helps them strengthen their autonomy and their own involvement in the management of their diabetes. The simplification of the care pathway, especially through digital innovations, and the processing of health data subject to patient consent, is the foundation of a coordinated and effective approach. In response to requests by payers and healthcare systems, Air Liquide has already set up a performance-based remuneration platform for certain diseases, supporting the promotion of the quality of services offered to patients. Preventative care, personalized support and savings for the health system thus become the foundation of a virtuous circle, beneficial for patients, healthcare professionals and society as a whole.

Diabetes in brief

According to the WHO definition, diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin or when the body is unable to use the insulin it produces effectively

This results in an increased concentration of glucose in the blood (hyperglycemia).

Diabetes exists in two forms: type 1, which is linked to insufficient or absent insulin production, and type 2 (90% of cases5), where the insulin produced is not used effectively by the body. The only treatment available for type 1 diabetes is insulin delivery via a variety of medical delivery devices.

Nearly half of people with diabetes are undiagnosed6. In addition, treatment compliance (the patient’s actual behavior with respect to the treatment proposed) is a major public health issue.    

In 2017, 352 million individuals were considered to be at risk for developing type 2 diabetes7.

Air Liquide and health

Air Liquide Healthcare is engaged alongside patients, healthcare professionals and hospitals to make the healthcare system efficient and virtuous for all.

As a major world player in home healthcare, an expert in chronic disease follow-up at home, and supplier of medical gases and hygiene products for hospitals, its 16,500 men and women support 1.6 million patients at home and 15,000 hospitals and clinics, in more than 35 countries.

Changing Care. With You.

1. IDF Diabetes Atlas, eight edition 2017, page 40. Available on: https://diabetesatlas.org/resources/2017-atlas.html
2. IDF Diabetes Atlas, eight edition 2017, page 40. Available on: https://diabetesatlas.org/resources/2017-atlas.html
3. Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and Council of the 27th April 2016
4.  ETAPES is a French Government initiative which encourages and financially supports the deployment of coherent and relevant telemonitoring projects throughout the country.
5. Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale
6. International Diabetes Federation
7. International Diabetes Federation

Article published on October 31, 2019