Guest: Dr. Nick Cerneaz
Presenter: Tabetha Moreto
Guest Bio: Dr. Nick Cerneaz, General Manager of MyHealthTest. He has extensive experience in the development and commercialisation of new and advanced technologies, especially in the healthcare sector. From 2012 to 2014, he was Executive Director of The Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering – a not-for-profit social enterprise that aims to foster excellence and innovation in advanced engineering throughout Australia. Prior to this, he was Chief Executive Officer of Seeing Machines Limited – a publicly listed computer vision technology company creating a wide range of applications based on their core real-time face and facial feature tracking technology.
Segment Overview: In today’s interview, Dr. Cerneaz talks about the revolutionary product, MyHealthTest, a fast, easy and convenient way to monitor your health (such as your glucose levels), all from the privacy of your home. He also talks about World Diabetes Day and elaborates on gestational diabetes and how it affects women during their pregnancy.
TRANSCRIPT – MyHealthTest
Tabetha Moreto: Hello everyone, welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host for today, Tabetha Moreto. Our guest today is Dr. Nick Cerneaz, General Manager of MyHealth Test. He has extensive experience in the development and commercialization of new and advanced technology especially in the health care sector. Today we’re going to talk about World Diabetes Day and how women are at increased risk of getting gestational diabetes. We’ll also be discussing about the new MyHealth Test which is a fast, easy and convenient way to monitor your health all from the privacy of your own home. Without further ado, welcome to the show Nick. It’s very nice to have you here.
Dr. Nick Cerneaz: Thanks very much Tabetha. Very happy to be here.
T: My pleasure. Can you please tell the audience more about yourself and your company?
C: Absolutely. I’m an Engineer originally and spent my whole life working and developing technology for medical applications. One of them is MyHealth Test testing service which is we’re doing blood tests in a very convenient way rather than go and see a doctor and the doctor says we need some tests and they get a script and off you go to the pathology collection center to have blood drawn through a needle. For people who know what tests they need particularly with chronic conditions, we offer a service that is significantly more convenient. So we’ll send you a little kit that allows you sitting at home in your pajamas, in your breakfast table. You can take a little sample from your fingertip, that’s a little finger prick and drip a couple of droplets of blood onto a special card, put that card in a special envelope that protects it and then you can have your breakfast and have a shower and get dressed. And on your way to work, you can pop that envelop in the mail and the day we receive that sample in the mail, we’ll analyze that in our central laboratories and therefore have all the high quality of the central lab and we can then send those results directly back to you electronically on that same day. And not only we will send the results to you but usually configure the system or have those results sent directly to your doctor, or your spouse or parent or someone who can look after you. So the service is about convenience and it helps people get their testing done very quickly, efficiently, without all the fuss of having to go and see the doctor just to get the tests done. The beauty of getting the results at home is that you can absorb the information at home, the time and the place of comfort, and privacy and also with the pace that suits you. And having absorbed that information, you can then go and have a really good discussion with your doctor about, “Well I’ve got this result. What are we going to do? What’s the therapy from here?” So we’re all about giving people information that helps and understand their issues and then they can have a really good interaction with their doctor.
T: That’s fascinating. So tell me, what does this particular test analyze? Does it analyze your blood sugar? Does it analyze your blood pressure?
C: The test for diabetes that we offer is for HbA1c and that is a test that is now the standard of care really for both diagnosing and monitoring the onset and progression of diabetes. It measures how well your body has managed its blood glucose levels over the previous three months, about 12 weeks. And so it’s a blood test and we’re looking
for a particular marker in the blood that is a measure of how well your body has managed glucose. If you have diabetes or if you’re developing diabetes then your body’s ability to control blood glucose is not as good as it was when you were younger or such and so your blood glucose level goes out of control and that’s what we measure. There are many reasons for why blood glucose goes out of control, and they lead to the different types of diabetes. Your listeners may have heard of type 1, type 2 gestational diabetes for example and the different reasons for your blood glucose being out of control are the basis of those different types of diabetes. But at the end of the day, if your glucose is uncontrolled then that’s potentially an indicator of diabetes and that’s what we’re measuring. So the HbA1c test, it’s a really good test for this. It’s really simple, try to use it. It’s just a couple of droplets of blood. It only takes a few moments to collect them and with that information that you’re in a position to do something about your condition.
T: That’s excellent. I agree with you doctor because gestational diabetes is something that on the rise nowadays. Can I ask you, what are the symptoms of gestational diabetes in women?
C: Well of course it’s structure of pregnancy. As the body is undergoing an enormous number of hormonal changes with the development of the baby, some of those changes put pressure along the ability of the body to manage its blood glucose levels. A woman can develop a type of diabetes during pregnancy, it’s called gestational diabetes. Often at the end of pregnancy when the baby is born and hopefully life is lengthful of bubbling, exciting youngster. Soon after the birth, the delivery blood glucose levels will change your ability to produce insulin and manage the insulin levels in your blood stream, will return to normal and often gestational diabetes will go away. What’s really interesting is that recent research has shown that of the women who do contract gestational diabetes, more than half of them will go on to develop type 2 diabetes within 10-20 years of their pregnancy. And that’s an extremely high rate of type 2 diabetes developing from gestational. I guess the message we’re trying to get at World Diabetes Day this year is focusing on women’s health and women with diabetes particularly in this case. The message is, if you have previously had a pregnancy, then you really ought to measure, get tested at least every 2 years ideally, annually for diabetes for the development of pre-diabetes and hopefully not maybe the case, the development of actual diabetes. It’s something you can quite easily detect and do something about. So you’re in a much better position if you measure it and find out and react to that than you’re unaware of that. You asked me what are some of the symptoms and I guess just from the listeners at home, a couple of points that might help them. Type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes leading on to type 2 diabetes, at home I guess the rules of thumb you can apply are the three T’s of diabetes, which toilet in which you find you need to get a loo quite a lot or your feeling thirsty all the time, that you just can’t quench your thirst and the third one is if you’re tired, feeling fatigued all the time. Those three T’s, the Toilet, Thirsty and Tired – they’re potentially indicators of the development of type 2 diabetes. And so if you’re feeling thirsty, ran down or need to get to the loo quite a lot, then it might be worthwhile to get tested for diabetes.
T: Thank you for sharing those symptoms with us. I can relate to this particular topic in a way because my mother unfortunately developed gestational diabetes when she was pregnant with me. After she gave birth, it went away but like what you mentioned, half of the women who developed this unfortunately get type 2 diabetes many years later. Same thing happened to my mother. My mother had gestational diabetes and about maybe 3 or 4 years later, she developed type 2 diabetes.
C: It’s very common. Diabetes is not a condition that affects just women of course. It’s a condition that affects everybody. In fact, 1/3 of all people will potentially develop or will develop type 2 diabetes. It’s a condition that affects everybody, and in fact age is by far the biggest predictor of type 2 diabetes all over. There are things you can do. It is a serious condition but it’s not something to be scared of. It’s vastly better to be tested and become aware of it and then you can engage with your doctors to discuss it, the relatively simple treatment plans. And for a lot of people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes following those relatively simple approaches can actually significantly reduce the risk profile. Some of the simple things that people can do are to eat well, eat less, move more and then talk to your doctor and follow that treatment plan, because the consequences of diabetes are significant. They’re very serious but you can do something about it to prevent your condition developing into those serious complications and that’s what we’re really trying to encourage people to do.
T: I agree with you on that Doctor. How can gestational diabetes be treated? How can women prevent getting this?
C: That’s something they really need to discuss with their doctor. Gestational diabetes is a serious condition. Obviously a woman is in the middle of pregnancy and of course managing a woman’s health through that process is really something that you want to do in partnership with your health care professional. The most important message I can encourage your listeners to adapt is to get tested and then engage with your doctor to work at how to go forward with that. Getting tested is relatively easy to do. You can go to your doctor and they can help you get a test or if getting to your doctor’s a bit tricky, if time is a bit tight, MyHealth Test, we offer a testing service which will allow you to do that at home very conveniently, very easy. If you just go to our website, www.myhealthtest.com, you can order a diabetes test from us. We’ll send that to you in the mail and as I say you could do that test sitting at home in your pajamas even and send a couple of droplets of blood off in the mail and we’ll have those results back to you the day we get that sample in the mail. So it’s very convenient. It’s very easy and the privacy of doing it at home, it feels to a lot of people as does of course the time saving of just bring it out and get it done in the time and place that suits you.
T: That’s excellent. I’m very happy that your company has developed this test. That way people can check their blood sugar and they can know what’s going on with their health without the hassle of having going to the laboratory or having going to their doctor. It’s very convenient.
C: That’s right, the convenience is certainly a big factor. In fact because of the World Diabetes Day this week, we’re offering a special this week actually. Up until Sunday night, if people want to purchase that test from our website, that’s a 50% discount available on our website at this time. So that’s a little incentive to help people try and take that step to get tested. One of the advantages of our service I suppose in a way, it offers the convenience doing it at home but it also has the performance attributes so the central laboratory where we do the analysis. We’re a fully qualified, fully accredited mainstream pathology laboratory that does these testings. So it’s got all the quality control, the things you’d hope for. But it has on top of that, the convenience that helps people do it easily. As I said at the start, that the thing we’re trying to do is to encourage people to become informed and with the benefit of that information, they’re really in the position to go to the doctor and ask better questions. Ask the doctor, “What does this mean? How can I be treated well? What can I do that can help me live a healthier life and attain great health?” So that’s what we’d like to achieve and I think this year’s World Diabetes Day, if we can encourage the mums, life is busy after child and you don’t have time to look after yourself. So taking a moment now to look after yourself, get the test done and while you’re being in a much better position to live a long and healthy life and be there with your kids for a long time.
T: Absolutely. I’m a mother myself Doctor so I know that feeling where sometimes I forget to take care of myself and it’s always my daughter that I look after first. But I agree with you, everybody, every parent and every mother should take care of themselves as well.
C: Without a doubt, that’s what we’re really trying to encourage. And I think the range of tests that MyHealth Test offers is designed to help people do just that and if we can create a more informed health, and particularly more informed group of people who are able to go on and have those discussions with the doctor will end up with a healthier society and actually gather the benefits to all of these and that would be tremendous.
T: Fantastic. Speaking of your tests, for those interesting in getting your test how can they purchase it?
C: From our website if they go to www.myhealthtest.com. Right on the front page there is some information about our promotion on this week and that will take them straight to the store and they can purchase that test online. They can purchase the test for themselves or indeed someone else for whom they are the guardian or legal carer. You can order a test for your child, etcetera. I should point out that this test is not suitable for people who are currently pregnant. So really in terms of the message about gestational diabetes, it’s people who are previously have been pregnant and that is a certain test that is good for them. For men, anybody else who’s worried about their health or worried about the potential onset of diabetes, if you go to our website we can fix you up with that test. And as I say, there’s a 50% discount at the moment. So with luck, that might encourage a few extra people to be tested and go on to live a healthier, happier life.
T: Fantastic. Doctor if you don’t mind I want to ask you a personal question. Why are you so passionate about this particular topic? Why are so passionate about helping people with diabetes?
C: Well I have diabetes in my family. I personally am lucky enough to currently be without it, not to be living with the condition but I do know people with the condition. My aunt unfortunately died, quite a serious case some years ago. It’s a condition that affects us all, as I said, “1 in 3 people will develop the condition in their life”. One in 4 Australians today either have diabetes or have prediabetes. One in 4 and of those that have diabetes, about 30% of them walking around the street now, 30% of them do knot know they have diabetes. That is really a tragic situation in some sense because the complications of diabetes is really devastating. Obviously in the individual level that can lead to things like vision damage, blindness, kidney damage and you can end up on dialysis through the rest of your life perhaps. Cardiovascular issues lead to heart attacks and nerve blood vessel damage can lead to amputations. In Australia right now, there are about 85 people per week who have an amputation that is preventable. An amputation due to diabetes that is preventable. That’s 12 people a day having part of their body removed because of the condition that they quit potentially do something about and they are preventable. We can work together and prevent those outcomes. And unfortunately the economic outcomes that are on the societal level are huge costs Australia about getting on for 15 billion dollars a year and costs 30% of all hospital beds are occupied by diabetes related conditions and those figures are growing. But at the individual level as I say, there are these terribly tragic consequences and I’ve experienced that in my family. And I don’t want that to happen and I think we, as a society can do something about fixing that and I think we should. So that’s why I do it and I think there’s a great deal to be gained from this type of testing and people becoming informed and getting in control of their health. I think if I can encourage people to become a little bit more informed about their health, their own health and take that information, feel confident, feel a bit more confident going to the doctor and having a discussion with the doctor about, “Look doctor I’ve got these results. What can I do?” I think we’ve shown in our work but in fact if people do get a little bit more informed about it, they’re much more likely to become more engaged patients. And so one of the problems that doctors struggle with as we know in terms of managing their conditions that their patients struggling with is compliance. The doctor knows that they want to have the patient go through this particular treatment regime but unfortunately the patients might start off with the best of intentions but they fall off in the enthusiasm and they struggle to maintain compliance with that treatment regime. What we’re finding is that if people are more aware of their own condition and more invested in the understanding of it, then they are much more likely to stick with the treatment. And speaking with the treatment leads to in this case significantly better outcomes. So I think there’s a lot be gaining from this. And with luck my little contribution, will help us get there. That’s what I’m trying to do.
T: Thank you so much Nick for sharing your story. I really appreciate it. I’m sorry but that’s all the time that we have today. Before we go, what is your main takeaway message to all of our listeners out there?
C: Get tested and myhealthtest.com is a simple place to get that testing done. Do it today! You know you’re not going to do it tomorrow, do it today!
T: Excellent message. Thank you so much Nick for coming on the show. I really appreciate it.
C: Thanks Tabetha. Have a good day.
T: That was Dr. Nick Cerneaz, General Manager of MyHealth Test. We’ve just have been talking about gestational diabetes, World Diabetes Day and the revolutionary MyHealth Test blood testing service that his company offers. If you liked this interview, transcripts and archive are available at www.hpr.fm. We are on all social media platforms so don’t forget to follow, like and subscribe. We’re also available for download on SoundCloud and iTunes. I’m Tabetha Moreto and you’re listening to Health Professional Radio.