Digital pens improve treatment of acute diabetes at Bethesda
18 November 2009
Mobile technology is helping patients with acute diabetes
manage their illness more effectively so that long-term complications
associated with the illness can be treated earlier.
A new telemedicine solution called DiabCareOnline from Germany’s
Ontaris combines a blood glucose meter and patient diary with the Anoto
digital pen and a mobile phone to enable faster communication of patient
data. The new system is already being rolled out to diabetes patients at
Bethesda Hospital in Stuttgart, Germany. The system is being highlighted
at medical trade fair Medica in Dusseldorf this week.
From the patient’s point of view, the monitoring process remains
virtually the same as before: they measure their blood sugar with the
meter and fill in their patient diaries. But instead of a normal pen
they use the Anoto digital pen, which automatically captures their
handwritten notes and converts them into digital format.
The digital pen (see above) looks like a ballpoint pen. A tiny infrared camera at
its tip tracks its movements relative to a grey dot pattern printed on
the pages of the patient diary, recording and storing what is being
Both the glucose meter (Accu Chek Aviva from Roche Diagnostics) and
the Anoto digital pen are Bluetooth-enabled. This enables results and
diary entries to be transmitted daily via a mobile phone to the
patient’s electronic health record. The readings are then automatically
compared with the patient’s specific blood sugar targets. If this
analysis reveals critical discrepancies, the consultant in charge of the
patient’s treatment can intervene more rapidly than previously possible.
This fast response can make a significant difference to the patient’s
well-being as acute health issues can be addressed much more quickly.
With much of the data analysis being handled remotely, diabetics also do
not have to attend as many appointments as before — benefitting both
patients and healthcare providers.
Academic studies and experience in the field have shown digital pen
and paper to be very user friendly as patients still use pen and paper,
just like before. This makes the new solution suitable for diabetics of
virtually all ages.