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Could Artificial Intelligence Revolutionize Diabetes Care?

Sometimes, diabetes makes for strange bedfellows. Recently, I've been reading about how researchers are applying artificial intelligence (AI) to type 2 diabetes (T2D) diagnosis and care.

Against the backdrop of all the hoopla over generative AI systems (like ChatGPT), these 2 things might not work together at first glance. However, scientists are applying AI's analytical and predictive capabilities to predict who will most likely be diagnosed with diabetes and which complications they face the highest risk of developing.1-3

Potential uses of artificial intelligence in diabetes care

Some people think this just might be a dramatic game changer when it comes to interrupting the seemingly inevitable path from prediabetes to a type 2 diabetes diagnosis and then on to further health complications and comorbidities later in life.3,4

What if you could predict your odds of type 2 diabetes?

With AI, we might soon be able to identify a person's individual odds of developing type 2 diabetes and complications long before any signs or symptoms appear.

Currently, people's risk for developing type 2 diabetes is based on generalized risk factors like being overweight or having a family history. However, artificial intelligence can calculate a person's personal risk profile using an algorithm based on real-life health data and results collected from thousands of people over decades.3

While AI can help uncover these risks, it doesn't necessarily offer new treatments or resolutions. So, knowing your risk level doesn't guarantee there will be a way to resolve that risk entirely.

Applications of AI in type 2 diabetes care

Early diagnosis

The promise of applying AI to diabetes is that people will have a more accurate read earlier on of their likelihood of developing diabetes or complications.3,4

It's thought that an earlier warning will give people and their healthcare providers extra time to respond in ways that reduce their risk and just maybe, if caught early enough, even prevent type 2 diabetes from developing at all.4

Preventative lifestyle changes

With AI, people may have the opportunity to apply treatments and health habits that are already recognized as beneficial. Maybe understanding their individual risk more clearly will make it easier to adopt new nutrition, exercise, and stress management habits.4

For some, making these lifestyle changes before a formal diagnosis could slow down and possibly even stop the progression of type 2 diabetes, resulting in more healthy years of life.

Personalized treatments

Healthcare providers will be able to offer highly personalized treatments long before complications develop. These treatments could include prescribing medications for their protective and preventive effects. Also, health screenings, like monitoring kidney function, can start before any indication that organ function has been damaged.4

Would you want to know?

Having the kind of early warning that comes from applying AI to type 2 diabetes could be instrumental in shifting our response to type 2 diabetes away from being reactive toward being preventative and proactive.

But by itself, it cannot guarantee that type 2 diabetes or the complications that come with it can be completely avoided. For some people, the best AI might offer is to delay the inevitable. And this only after making substantial lifestyle changes.

This begs the question: Would you want to know what your individual risk level is for developing type 2 diabetes?

Is knowledge enough to change health behaviors?

Would that knowledge be enough to motivate making lifestyle changes or adopting a different treatment approach? Even if these actions would only delay the inevitable?

If I went back in time to before my diabetes diagnosis, I'm not sure how I would answer these questions. They say knowledge is power. But if my response can only have a limited effect on my health, it's unclear how much power is actually in it.

What do you think about how applying AI to type 2 diabetes care might or might not change things for you?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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