The best thing I saw on Twitter today.

The Medtronic Diabetes Advocate Forum is giving the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) a sneak peek into some sort of diabetes management software for Mac OS X and the iPhone. You can follow the twitter side of the conversation here. I'm not a member of the forum, but whatever is being discussed is creating quite a bit of buzz. One tweet that stood out in particular to me was this one from @diabetesdaily.

I tend to be a systems thinker. To paraphrase Tamsen McMahon:

I’m a systems thinker. I tend to think about how all the pieces and parts of things fit, and work, together. I’m a big fan of patterns — recognising them, observing them, creating them.

It seems that products for the diabetes community are designed to be precisely the opposite of that. Yes, there are products called Continuous Glucose Monitoring Systems and there are insulin delivery systems. But the scope of those products seems limited to one or two parts from a single manufacturer that is designed to work well together. There is no real high-level system of interoperability between these "system brands".

My diabetes test strips are specific to the brand of glucose meter I use. Or even worse, it might be particular to the particular model of the glucose meter. Got a OneTouch glucose meter? Buy OneTouch test strips.

If I want to download data from your glucose meter to my computer I need a special cable from the manufacturer, which of course does not work with the glucose meter from another manufacturer. I've only had diabetes (Type 1.5/LADA) for a few years and yet I have three different sets of cables for the various meters I've used over the years. My endocrinologist carries around about four different cables when I visit him. He never knows what sort of meter his patients will bring to his office. What's wrong with putting a micro USB port these devices?

Very little diabetes software is written for the Mac. The few that have often been working with ancient versions of the OS or require additional software drivers to work. The data that is downloaded can only be used with that specific software. There are no industry standard data formats for these devices. Fellow DOC blogger and programmer Bernard Farrell has been trying to crack that nut since 2007.

What I want is to be able to get an accurate reading of my current blood glucose without needing a lancet. The glucose meters should weekly use disposable test strip packs. The packs would be compatible between all glucose meters. Brand A strips would work in Brand B devices. The meters would all have a micro USB slot for downloading data to a computer with a USB connector. The data would be exported in some industry specific data format. I don't care if it's XML or CSV text file. The meter would come with some basic software that would allow me to get a handle on my trends. Since the data format is standard, third-party vendors would be able to develop and sell more advanced software to allow me to manipulate that data to my benefit. I want to have that data become part of my healthcare record in Google Health or Microsoft Health Vault. I want to be able to share it with my endo. I want it on my iPhone. I want it to all work together!

I don't have much else to say on this (at least not right now), but as a technologist and person with diabetes, I can't wait for some real innovative systems thinking in this space.

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