Data Analytics

Medtronic makes diabetes management easier with real-time insights from IBM Streams

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Diabetes is one of the greatest global health threats. Today, 415 million adults worldwide have type I or type II diabetes, and that total is expected to grow to more than 600 million by 2040. It’s a scourge for individuals, a challenge for the healthcare community and a huge financial burden for society. In the United States alone, $240 billion is spent every year on diabetes care.

Individuals with diabetes take the brunt of it. They see their doctors for a few minutes every few months, so it’s largely up to them to manage their conditions—finding a balance between not having enough sugar in their blood and having too much. If their glucose level drops too low, they face the threat of hypoglycemia, which can cause confusion or disorientation and in its most severe forms loss of consciousness, coma or even death. If it’s too high over a long period of time, they risk cardiac disease, blindness, renal failure and amputation of fingers and limbs.

What is Medtronic doing to help?

With cases of both type I and type II diabetes rising, Medtronic recognized the need to create a new generation of glucose monitoring solutions that would give people the tools to manage their diabetes more easily, in combination with routine support from healthcare professionals.

Traditionally, Medtronic has provided systems such as continuous glucose meters and insulin pumps, which are physical devices used predominantly by people on insulin therapy to monitor glucose levels and administer insulin directly to the body. Now, Medtronic wants to harness these devices and provide continuous feedback on individuals’ glucose levels to support millions of people in the daily management of their condition. The growing popularity of wearable technology has made it easier to capture the biometric data on diet, exercise, sleep and medication but the challenge was to gain actionable insight from this massive volume of data, and deliver it to users quickly enough for them to make appropriate decisions.


To bring its new solution to market rapidly, Medtronic worked with IBM Streams and IBM Watson Health to develop Sugar.IQ With Watson, a cognitive mobile personal assistant app that aims to provide real-time actionable glucose insights and predictions for individuals with diabetes, helping to make daily diabetes management easier. They are also designing a solution that will process the factors that affect each individual’s personal glucose levels – food, sleep, stress and so on. The aim of this app is to coach each individual by helping them make smarter glucose-related decisions, for example avoiding foods and habits that tend to cause problems for them, so that they can live their lives to the fullest.

Medtronic is leveraging IBM Streams to analyze the data as it flows in from the devices, using predictive models to assess each person’s current situation and the risk of their glucose levels falling outside safe thresholds. So, they are able to provide meaningful and personalized tools and insights and create awareness if the models detect significant patterns.

Learn more about the Medtronic case study on how they worked with IBM to build Sugar.IQ with Watson, a cognitive mobile personal assistant app that will provide real-time actionable glucose insights and predictions. In addition, get more information on IBM Streams, and try the cloud services or the IBM Streams Quick Start Edition. Also, be sure to join the IBM Streams community.

IBM Cloud Marketing Manager, Global

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