Living with Type 1 Diabetes

Living with type 1 diabetes is a life unlike any other: it requires the individual to be the health professional who makes daily medical decisions, administers medications,  troubleshoots medical equipment, and analyzes mountains of numbers. All of this must be done to achieve glycemic control, avoiding the highs and lows that can lead to immediate or long-term dangers.

To be sure, living with T1D is only one aspect of a person’s life, and anyone with T1D can live their life to the fullest. And many do. But the challenges are still immense, compounded by shortcomings in the health care system, which is poorly designed to treat chronic conditions, especially one as complex as T1D. Despite improvements in therapies, T1D outcomes, in aggregate, continually fall short of standards set by the American Diabetes Association.

Helmsley believes that access to quality care is a right, not a privilege, and we have identified two priorities that we believe can have the greatest impact for helping those with T1D in the U.S. These priorities are inter-related, as both recognize shortcomings in the health care system and rely on technology and innovation to improve care.

Modernizing Care

For too many people with T1D, improvements in therapies over the past 10 years have not translated to better outcomes. That suggests we need to reconsider how people connect with their providers and manage their condition, regardless of geography. Helmsley invests in new approaches to care based on meeting people where they are and on treating individuals and their unique needs. Telemedicine has an important role to play, as does making greater use of mid-level providers, such as nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and pharmacists. Broadening the use of providers is especially important in places without easy access to specialty care.

Unlocking Better Health Outcomes

Managing glucose is a way of life for someone with T1D, yet also perpetually vexing. There are dozens of factors that influence blood glucose levels. Currently, we can accurately measure only two of them. We also lack an understanding of the impact of exercise and other activities of daily life on glucose.

Hemsley’s Living with T1D efforts include supporting research to improve our knowledge of what causes glucose levels to rise or fall, including a first-of-its-kind study of the role of exercise. We also support research examining other metabolic signals that can provide a more nuanced measure of glucose, such as lactose and ketone levels.

Better measures hold promise to empowering people to make better decisions and lead healthier lives – but only if the information is easy to understand and translate to action.

Technology holds tremendous promise to help achieve this goal.   Helmsley therefore also  invests in solutions like closed-loop apps, improved insulin pumps, and continuous glucose monitor (CGM) technology.

Virtual Specialty Clinic

Helmsley is determined to enable quality care for people with diabetes no matter where they live. We’re funding a study to determine whether personalized support from Diabetes Care and Education Specialists focused on remotely onboarding people with diabetes to continuous glucose monitors, as well as insulin dosing support and mental health support, can improve clinical and psychosocial outcomes despite barriers to accessing in-person specialized care.

CGMs have helped revolutionize T1D care, yet remain beyond the reach of many patients and are unfamiliar to non-specialty providers.

Helmsley is committed to connecting people to information and resources about CGM to help them become better users and achieve better outcomes. One example is our support of virtual specialty clinics, which include remote onboarding of CGM as well as insulin dosing and mental health assistance. Virtual clinics, and telemedicine in general, have assumed a more important role with the Covid-19 pandemic, and that prominence will continue after the crisis has passed. Similarly, we have invested as well in a hub-and-spoke delivery care system, which connects specialists at university medical centers (the hub) to community physicians (the spokes) who manage endocrinological disorders, including diabetes.

Even with thoughtful, responsive care that meets people where they are, nothing frightens a person with T1D more than low blood sugars – hypoglycemia –  which can lead to shakiness and confusion or, in extreme cases, loss of consciousness or death. Helmsley funds researchers, clinicians, and biotech companies that focus on understanding why the body’s natural way of preventing low blood sugars (by releasing glucagon) is dysfunctional in T1D, and discovering ways to both better monitor for low blood sugar, as well as new drugs that could correct it.

These efforts are designed to make living with T1D easier, and health care better, so that individuals can go forth, undeterred, to pursue their goals, strive for success, and realize their dreams.

Life with type 1 diabetes is full of open questions. Meals, exercise, sleep and stress has an impact on glucose management that varies from person to person and day to day. We’re working with our grantees to improve our understanding of these factors and further empower people living with T1D.

News & Insights

A New Way to Access Complex Diabetes Care

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Leveraging Predictive Analytics for T1D Care

Helmsley is funding the creation of a Rapid Learning Lab to use predictive analytics to swiftly and cost-efficiently connect people with T1D with the...
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Inside Philanthropy Highlights Virtual Specialty Clinic

A Helmsley-funded virtual specialty clinic model that reaps the benefits of the latest technology could be a game-changer by expanding access to quality care for all people with type 1...

Inside Philanthropy Highlights Virtual Specialty Clinic

Diabetes Telehealth Solutions: Improving Self-Management through Remote Initiation of Continuous Glucose Monitoring

CGMs improve outcomes in diabetes, but geography hinders access to them. We funded a pilot study conducted by Jaeb to explore the possibility of remote onboarding and support of CGM. All 34 participants improved their glucose levels and quality of life:
Diabetes Telehealth Solutions: Improving Self-Management through Remote Initiation of Continuous Glucose Monitoring

Helmsley Awards $5 Million to Evaluate Virtual Diabetes Specialty Clinic Model

New York, NY—The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust today announced a new $5,025,099 grant to the Jaeb Center for Health Research Foundation to evaluate...

Helmsley Awards $5 Million to Evaluate Virtual Diabetes Specialty Clinic Model

Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics: Role of Non-profit Organizations During COVID-19 for Diabetes Care

Widespread uptake of continuous glucocse monitors (CGM) can facilitate telemedicine to remote places and remove healthcare disparities.

Healthcare professionals, type 1 diabetes patients, AND payers will win, says Trustee...

Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics: Role of Non-profit Organizations During COVID-19 for Diabetes Care

Published Fri Feb 5, 2021

David Panzirer Pens Op-Ed Focused on Accessibility of Virtual Care

As more patients and doctors embrace telemedicine, it’s time for insurers to do the ...

Published Mon May 11, 2020

Insulins Available at U.S. Pharmacies Are Consistent with Product Labeling, Study Supported by JDRF, ADA, and Helmsley Finds

Study Examined the Potency and Consistency of Active Insulin in Products Available across the United ...

Published Wed Jan 9, 2019

Online Edition of Helmsley-Funded Type 1 Diabetes Self-Care Manual Now Live

With Helmsley support, two leading experts on type 1 diabetes (T1D) assembled a comprehensive guide ...