Prof. Dr. Freimut Schliess explains the importance of rewarding health innovation and the need for European action on diabetes

Definition of target groups and corresponding health goals by diabetes course. With increasing age (another dimension) the preservation and rehabilitation of functional capabilities gain in importance for health goal achievement.

Diabetes provides lots of room for rewarding innovations in healthy living and active ageing: the most important disease trigger is highly modifiable, pathogenetic transitions are potentially reversible and self-management plays an outstanding role in diabetes management. Therefore, one obvious strategy to prioritise investments in healthy living and active ageing would be to focus on the prevention and management of diabetes. This would have a profound effect on the overall chronic disease burden and be particularly effective in promoting healthy living and active ageing in Europe.

A curative therapy of diabetes preventing co-morbid conditions is still missing. Closing the loop between blood glucose assessments and insulin dosing still depends on patients’ action. Sensor-based technologies for the collection of digital biomarkers and predictive algorithms may facilitate an early identification of patients with a high risk of co-morbid conditions. There is a trend towards integrating the prescription of drugs and devices within value-based schemes of chronic care provision, such as an integrated personalised diabetes management coupled to pay for performance compensation models.

Although diabetes is a paradigm case for rewarding innovation in healthcare, open and collaborative knowledge and innovation communities such as EIT Health are needed to fully translate societal investments into a tangible impact for European citizens. The coordinated curation of innovation portfolios targeting healthy living and active ageing, as well as the eliminination of general obstacles to innovation, can be achieved best in close interaction with societal stakeholders. An inherent integration of close-to-market research, education & training and the creation of new businesses (EIT knowledge triangle) will greatly support innovators in diabetes to make a triple impact – on the healthcare experience of individual patients, the health of populations, and the sustainability of healthcare systems.

Profil GmbH is leading EIT Health’s CLOSE project. CLOSE develops and deploys an integrated package (AP+) centered on closed loop metabolic control by an Artificial Pancreas (AP) for severely ill patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). CLOSE will boost homecare service provision, improve quality of life of patients and their families, and increase the sustainability of health care systems.

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