For as many emphatically saying, “Yes, this is the digital health revolution,” there’s an equal number of naysayers shaking their heads in disagreement.
We’re well aware of the capabilities lying within our smartphones and computers, but life with diabetes presents us with a random assortment of electronics: pumps, glucometers, continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) and other devices that stand alone and, unfortunately, speak different languages.
When living with chronic disease, one of the least exciting innovations to float to the surface, in my opinion, is a shiny new app requiring more effort than it’s worth. I’ve yet to see one that I’m impressed enough by to engage with.
Anna McCollister-Slipp in the Huffington Post points out that while we dream big at tech conferences or perhaps through videos and other outlets promoting health tech innovations, what we find ourselves left with are ideas. Ideas are great, don’t get me wrong—I love to dream big. Ideas create a sense of hope to hold on to while we wait for newfangled gadgets to arrive.
I’ve been holding onto hope for the past 30 years for curative therapies. I’m hostage to an iPhone, as a parent of a child living with Type 1 diabetes and a type 1 diabetic myself, jumping at texts and phone calls day and night. It’s dreamy to imagine visualizing my daughter’s digital data compressed and living on a smartphone.
I Can’t Download My Data
Yep, and you’re certainly not alone.
With the FDA essentially controlling the budget, diabetes tech often changes prior to a company’s ability to ensure their customers can plug the equipment into their computers and download their data. Incompatibilities are everywhere.
Anything greater than Windows 8.0 or operating a Mac will create roadblocks. Using dinosaur operating systems so we can access diabetes data is not only a ridiculous concept, but an unacceptable one.
Piled with Paper
We continue arriving at doctor appointments with piles of papers (if we’re actually lucky enough to plug devices in and print out the results). Did I mention how important this is for disease management? Pumps, CGMs and glucometers shape our day-to-day adjustments. A clear and easily accessible picture from devices is vital for managing diabetes.
This disjunctive model of medicine marches along day after day and year after year. We’re buried by papers, even in this digital revolution, because companies haven’t shown any real results, one where devices work together so patients can access real data easily and electronically.
The Future Is Shiny
But, there’s hope in the near future with a variety of new diabetes management innovations coming to the forefront. Promising companies like Tidepool, who have recently partnered with JDRF, are aiming to simplify and streamline diabetes data. With six of their nine employees living with type 1 diabetes, their investment and motivation runs high—hallelujah.
Cross your fingers with me (and maybe your toes too); one day soon digital diabetes management may be hitting the top ten list for medical innovations that are making a remarkable impact on managing chronic disease. For now, we will wait with the hope that diabetes management will become more hassle-free and less tiresome.