Part 1 of 3

A Chef Takes a Fresh Approach to Diabetes

Medtronic and IBM Watson will change the recipe for diabetes management

In 2014, after being discovered unconscious on the floor, Philip Fisher was diagnosed with diabetes. Today, IBM and Medtronic have a partnership to create solutions using IBM cognitive capabilities to help improve the lives of people like Philip.

A National Burden

In the United States, four people are diagnosed with diabetes every minute. That’s 1.9 million new cases each year, and a projected $512 billion total burden on the US healthcare system.* Why are we spending so much? For one, diabetes is one of the most difficult diseases to manage, with a variety of complications that result from insufficient care. Plus, diabetes patients typically only visit their doctor every 90 days, leaving 95% of care and management in the hands of patients themselves. Often, patients don’t get the care they need until it’s too late, leading to costly emergency room visits and lengthy hospital stays.

Take Philip Fisher, a San Antonio chef who, in the Fall of 2014, was found unresponsive on the floor of the ministry where he works. Philip has no memory of what happened up to the point when he regained consciousness at the hospital. After a battery of tests, Philip was diagnosed with diabetes and an A1C level of 10.9%. (A1C is a measure of a person’s average level of blood glucose, also called blood sugar, over 3 months. The target A1C for people with diabetes is 7%.) Philip was given medication and a blood-glucose monitor. But after he was discharged, he chose to ignore his disease — a choice made easier thanks to a busy schedule working as a chef to plan and prepare meals for his ministry, Outcry in the Barrio.

Every Diabetes Patient Is Different

Philip’s doctor encouraged him to join the Medtronic Turning Point program. This program uses a Medtronic app to help patients monitor their diabetes. For Philip, being in the Medtronic Turning Point program has already delivered life changing results.

The Medtronic Turning Point program helped teach Philip better habits surrounding his diet, about the impact of carbs that break down into sugar, and that when he eats can be as important as what he eats. Before the program, Philip’s mantra was, “fat is flavor.” Now Philip has a deeper awareness of ingredients for their health benefits, he’s using it to change in the meals he prepares. According to Philip, it’s all about balance. If the ministry receives a shipment of donuts for breakfast, lunch includes fresh veggies and a salad.

IBM Watson is working with Medtronic to enhance the solution used by Philip by developing a new generation of personalized diabetes care management tools. IBM can apply cognitive computing to patient data to help identify individuals at high-risk for hospital readmission due to diabetes. Using the resulting cognitive insights, Medtronic can provide an integrated and personalized care program to healthcare systems, to assist people with diabetes and help reduce cost of care.

Learning Habits That Can Be Passed On

Philip refers to the app as an extension of his conscience. It’s taught and enabled him to be more accountable for his health, and he’s been encouraged by the results. Today, Philip’s A1C is down to 5.9%. And even though the ingredients he uses have changed, he continues to share his passion for cooking with the ministry. “I do, a lotta salads now. Like baked chicken salad, grilled chicken salad, fajita salad — proteins on a bed of lettuce, with a ton of fresh veggies.”

Everyone is benefiting from Philip’s new approach to food. Especially Philip.

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