Jana Beck: 2012 DiabetesMine Patient Voices





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Published on Jun 12, 2012

[Sorry for the poor audio--see transcript below if necessary!

Version with better audio here: http://youtu.be/KUF71NV_Rio]

2012 DiabetesMine Patient Voices contest submission by Jana Beck, advocating for focusing on improving the software side of diabetes technology by improving integration between diabetes devices, adding integration with social media, and leveraging data already present in diabetes devices to provide feedback with the potential to nudge a PWD towards improved glycemic control.


My name is Jana Beck. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 19, which is getting close to 10 years ago.

I wear the Animas Ping insulin pump and a Dexcom continuous glucose monitor.

While there's clearly a lot of room for improvement on the hard tech side of diabetes technology--smaller, less cumbersome insulin pumps, closed-loop systems, non-invasive blood glucose monitoring--I think that the software side of diabetes tech is what's most urgently in need of change. If I had a couple of minutes to talk to a CEO of a major diabetes company, I'd focus on two areas where I think the software side of diabetes tech can improve: integration and feedback.

What do I mean by integration?

For one thing, I want my diabetes devices to talk (and interact) with each other and with my non-diabetes devices, like my phone.

For example, sometimes the alarm on my Dexcom doesn't even wake me up if I go low during the night, but I often use my iPhone as an alarm clock. It'd be great if the Dexcom low alert could trigger an alarm on my phone to ensure I wake up.

Diabetes devices should also integrate with social media. Nothing helps me cope with a less-than-desirable blood glucose reading (or a day (or week!) of such readings) better than sharing my frustrations with other PWDs online. All my diabetes technology should seamlessly integrate with social media. I should be able to tweet a #bgnow from my meter or upload a CGM graph directly to Flickr.

And now, what about feedback?

I want to see diabetes devices providing more feedback based on the data they're already collecting about our insulin intake and blood glucose.

In the book Pumping Insulin, John Walsh and Ruth Roberts lay out several criteria for knowing when your total daily insulin dose is correctly adjusted to suit your needs. One of these criteria is whether you use less than 8% of your total daily insulin for correction boluses. I want to see an insulin pump that alerts you when you've gone over this threshold for correction boluses as a gentle reminder that it might soon be time to revisit your insulin dosing parameters if the pattern continues.

CGM devices should also give more feedback about how your current 24 hours of blood glucose data compares to earlier data. A good model for this kind of feedback could be the fitbit, which is a pedometer that includes as part of its display a flower that grows longer the more active you are. What's great about this kind of feedback is that it's simple to understand, gentle (in that it reflects positive results only and isn't overtly comparative like a number), and aesthetically pleasing.

On a CGM display, a star could appear on the main screen whenever your average blood glucose from the past 24 hours is better than it was for the previous 24. (You could also provide feedback for things like percentage of readings that are below or above your target range.)


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