Managing a life with diabetes may involve working with a lot of different data. Monitoring blood sugar, counting carbohydrates and calories, tracking physical activity, and adjusting the timing and dosage of therapeutic insulin – it’s a lot to ask of even those who aren’t particularly math challenged. Keeping track of all of these numbers and knowing how they may affect each other are important steps toward keeping blood sugar levels in target range.
These days, most of this data can be collected and processed by an armada of devices including continuous glucose monitors (CGMs), insulin pumps, wireless meters, computers, smartphones and tablets (and, on the horizon, the artificial pancreas). The trick is to ensure that these devices to all talk to each other – just like how today’s laptops and smartphones easily interact with televisions, speakers, printers and data storage devices. Such seamless communication is called “interoperability.” It makes life easier, despite a growing number of devices.
That’s why the FDA is emphasizing the need for interoperability between diabetes devices. Many devices that exist today – including CGMs – operate on proprietary platforms, meaning they were not designed to easily share data or communicate with other devices the way your laptop and printer were. As part of the FDA’s push, the agency is developing greater oversight and including interoperability in some regulatory requirements.
Further reading: The FDA outlines the benefits of interoperability.
Sharing blood glucose data
In January 2015, the FDA approved the marketing of the first set of apps designed to share data in real time from one person’s CGM to a caregiver’s mobile device. Using the Dexcom Share system, a parent can monitor their child’s blood sugar levels remotely via their smartphone or tablet.
According to the FDA’s press release, future manufacturers wanting to market similar devices will not need to apply for premarket clearance from the agency, as such devices pose relatively low to moderate risk. Manufacturers will, however, need to register and list their device and follow other applicable laws and regulations.
A blood glucose sharing community
In April 2015, another blood glucose sharing app was released: One Drop. The free app tracks glucose levels, food eaten, insulin taken and physical activity, and displays them in relationship to each other over time. Users can look through their histories to see how a particular meal or workout affected their levels. Each user’s current data and histories can also be shared – publicly or anonymously – to other app users.
Jeff Dachis, One Drop’s founder, lives with type 1 diabetes. He sees his app as part of an emerging practice called “data-driven self-care” and looks forward to a day when he says the diabetes community might “collect and analyze and correlate” their data with “clinical trial study data or published research data and start to extract the insights for people who are … trying to navigate from moment to moment.”
Further reading: More about data-driven self-care and tracking devices on the horizon.
Watch this space for more diabetes tech news in the coming weeks!
Jeff Dachis received no compensation for this post on Discuss Diabetes. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewees and/or contributors, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.
© 2015 The DX: The Diabetes Experience