Diabetes drugmakers partner with mobile startups to boost patient engagement

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Novo Nordisk's new app, Cornerstones4Care powered by Glooko(pictured above), lets users "visualize their disease," according to David Moore, the company's SVP of marketing.

In the span of the last month, Roche acquired mySugr, a mobile diabetes management platform, while Novo Nordisk announced a new diabetes management mobile app in partnership with Glooko.

The deals signal ongoing interest among diabetes drug and device makers to partner with digital-health startups to better engage patients and mine valuable real-world evidence.

Novo Nordisk is one of the preeminent marketers of diabetes drugs, while Roche markets a line of blood glucose meters and also provides diabetes-specific data management programs.

See also: Diabetes marketers turn to big data, gaming to improve outcomes

Novo's app, which debuted July 12, is part of the company's broader Cornerstones4Care patient support program. It allows patients to track their meals, activities, and blood glucose in one place and also syncs with their personal diabetes monitoring devices. The company's partnership with Glooko was announced in January. The partnership married Glooko's digital platform and data analytics expertise with Novo's extensive background in diabetes.

“The vision behind this is to provide a solution that can help patients better manage their disease in a proactive way,” said David Moore, SVP of marketing at Novo Nordisk. Moore joined Novo in May.

He added that the app was designed to help patients “visualize their disease.”

See also: For diabetes drugs, lowering blood sugar may no longer be enough to stay competitive

The information collected by the app will be analyzed by IBM Watson Health. “Our partnership with IBM Watson will allow us to understand this data and give us a database of real world outcomes and real-world effectiveness,” he said, noting that it will also inform decision-making going forward, such as what capabilities the company may add to the app in the future.

Roche's acquisition of mySugr on June 30 netted the Swiss drugmaker a mobile app that specializes in diabetes. Similar to the Novo app, mySugr lets users capture information about their meals, activity, and blood sugar levels and also provides an overview of their recent activity. MySugr will become a part of the the company's diabetes management platform, known as Roche Diabetes Care.

As of May, mySugr reported that it has more than one million global users. Roche first began partnering with mySugr in 2014.

See also: When it comes to diabetes, will marketers break with tradition?

Roland Diggelmann, CEO of Roche Diagnostics, said in a release that the deal will allow the drugmaker “to offer seamlessly accessible patient solutions within an open platform to better respond to the unmet needs of people with diabetes.” 

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