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Taiwan startup offers consumer technology to help diabetics

A Taiwanese startup has designed an app and related tools to let people monitor crucial blood sugar levels on their own.

Health2Sync, or H2S for short, was founded in 2013 by Ed Deng, a former Lehmann Brothers employee in the United States.

Backed by strong customer reviews and venture capital, the firm aims to expand from the Taiwan market to China.

Deng came up with the idea because of his family background.

"My grandmother, who is 86, measures her blood sugar every day," he said. "Based on that data, my aunt and uncle control what she eats. I learned that those with data...are able to avoid complications and live longer."

More than 400 million people have diabetes worldwide and over half live in Asia. Taiwan alone has 1.8 million diabetics but only 4,000 certified diabetic educators.

Deng wants to compensate for what he describes as a lack of expertise. "I realized that a cloud-based solution, along with a mobile app, could help to alleviate the shortage and provide more real-time feedback," he told his alma mater, the University of Virginia.

H2S was set to develop a smart glucometer, but medical experts advised against trying to out-market heavyweights in the industry. Doctors might also shy away from an untested device made by a startup.

Deng instead created a data monitoring system that is compatible with major glucometers on the market.

H2S produced a mobile app, a propriety smart cable that connects the glucometer to a smartphone and a patient management cloud platform. The setup is designed to connect patients, their friends and family and medical personnel.

The app offered since 2014 stores daily blood sugar data gathered bya glucometer.

It can also record food and medicine intake, time spent exercising and general health conditions.

Data analysis coupled with graphic displays illustrates patterns between daily routines and blood sugar levels.

Patients can share their data by adding followers. If the app registers an irregular reading, the app sends an alert to followers, who in turn may offer help.

Fellow diabetics also can exchange experiences and offer mutual encouragement in a chat room.

All records from the app are transmitted to the cloud, where they are monitored long term and can help formulate medical advice.

"We've brought patients and family members onto the same platform and drawn patients closer to medical help," Deng told Business Next.

The H2S system has 12,000 active users and 80 hospital and clinic partners, mostly in Taiwan.

The app, credited for helping patients reduce blood sugar, gets regular 4-star and 5-star reviews on Apple and Android.

Revenues so far have come from the sale of hardware and fees for use of the app and cloud platform.

H2S says that in August it received US$3million in funding in a round led by U.S.-based venture capital firm WI Harper Group.

Equipped with that sum, Deng has set his eyes on China, where 109 million diabetes were reported in 2015.