Not having enough insulin can be deadly, and those with Type 2 diabetes may not get the proper dose despite self-administering prescribed injections of the hormone.
In turn, people who have Type 2 diabetes gradually make less of their own insulin and must replace it daily. Without insulin, sugar builds up in the bloodstream and causes life-threatening health complications.
Answering the call for more accurate prescriptions, a company in Livonia has developed technology that tells individuals how much insulin they need in real time.
Developed by Hygieia, the d-Nav Insulin Management Program uses patients’ blood sugar readings, taken each day via self-administered finger pricks, to immediately calculate how much insulin that person needs to take. In a traditional treatment program, patients take the same amount each day, regardless of their readings, until a doctor changes their insulin dosage based on new numbers.
“Knowing your sugar is just the first step,” says Eran Bashan, co-founder, CEO, and chairman of Hygieia, and co-developer of the program. He has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and developed the artificial intelligence behind the d-Nav app.
Diabetes patients receive either a meter that provides both blood sugar readings and insulin prescriptions, or access to an app into which they type their blood sugar readings to get the correct dose of insulin needed.
For Cheryl Higgins, who had been taking insulin for 10 years before using d-Nav, the program has helped her stay focused on her treatment, giving her more energy and improving her hemoglobin A1C level, a biomarker that measures average blood sugar over the previous two to three months. Higgins has also lost 110 pounds — a goal she couldn’t attain while struggling with blood sugar.
Higgins says she appreciates the independence the program gives her. Instead of calling her doctor weekly to report her blood sugar readings, her doctor can see her numbers through the app. The program also sends her text alerts if she misses an injection.
“Everything is right there for you,” she says.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the program in early 2019. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Medicare, and Medicaid offer d-Nav, and it is the first program in the U.S. that prescribes dosages without a physician. It’s also available in Israel and the U.K.
Insulin isn’t addictive, so patients can’t abuse the system. Bashan says a person would have to take insulin for 400 years before problems emerged. “Insulin treatment is slightly safer than high-heel shoes,” he says.