Finnish startup offers a diabetes diary with a twist
387 million people are estimated to live with diabetes globally and the number keeps rising. Finnish startup Sensotrend plans to make their lives a little easier.
“I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1999. Living with it requires lots of studying to understand how much insulin I need in different situations” says Mikael Rinnetmäki, founder of Sensotrend. “If I’d been on a run or played football, I would inject a certain dose of insulin and eat in a certain way, but I missed a tool that would help me to keep better track of this data and learn from it.”
This is the challenge Rinnetmäki set out to solve when he started work on an automated diabetes diary two years ago. The idea is simple: to help diabetics keep track of their blood glucose, nutrition, physical activity and medication without tedious manual logging.
The online diary imports data directly from products diabetics already use such as insulin pumps, activity trackers and meal apps. The data is then visualised to help the user, or their healthcare professionals, to see what effect exercise, specific meals or stress levels have on blood glucose levels so they can adjust treatment plans accordingly.
“You can easily see not only how your blood sugar has fluctuated, but also what has influenced it,” Rinnetmäki explains. “This will help to determine the correct insulin dosage in the future as you better understand how much you need in different situations.”
The sporty differentiator
It’s not only the integration with other services that sets Sensotrend apart, but also its focus on physical activity. Rinnetmäki himself is very active and feels this still poses one of the greatest challenges to diabetics.
“If you want to start training for a marathon or going to the gym, it might take months to get your insulin dosage right and there aren’t any tools that help you with it.”
While the diary doesn’t suggest insulin dosages, at least not in its early version, it helps the user learn how active they’ve been, the effects of physical activity on their blood sugar and how to balance it.
“We still leave the treatment decisions for the person and their doctor, but we can make the data easier to share and help them to analyse it,” says Rinnetmäki. “We want to enable the collection of richer data which can also be used to develop [insulin dosage] calculators further.“
Debut on a World diabetes day
Sensotrend has been developing its diabetes diary in cooperation with diabetes doctors, nurses and potential users since it was founded in early 2014.
“When we started building the diary, we were alone in this space but now we are starting to see others. No one is doing exactly the same but something similar,” comments Rinnetmäki. But he doesn’t see competition as a negative: “Diabetics have so many different requirements that we need different solutions for them all. There will never be one solution to suit everybody.”
Currently Sensotrend is preparing its first real-world pilot with a diabetes clinic in its hometown of Tampere, in central Finland. If everything goes well, a full international launch will be scheduled for the World Diabetes Day in November.
While Western markets are the company’s first target, the roadmap doesn’t stop there.
“Problems are very different in parts of Africa where a type 1 diabetic can even die within a few years of diagnosis. We are thinking of ways to get support there. In five years time we hope to be serving diabetics all around the world,” Rinnetmäki concludes.
Text: Eeva Haaramo