Day 12, continuing on the medical technology trend, feel free to read part 1, part 2, and part 3 first as part 4 will build off of all of these.
Part 3 talked about some of the software that's embedded in the medical devices. Today, I would like to talk about the software that's either installed to interact with those devices. Getting data off of a device is one of the most important things for me to do. It's important, because I change my pump settings or dietary choices rather often based on the data that I can get. In the end, the data that's available simply through my pump or CGM is limited to at most 1 day, and doesn't give much granularity or ability to average data in a consistent way. The issue with this comes with the fact that as I mentioned on Monday (part 3) these devices usually don't have a standard port for data transfer, like a MicroUSB, MiniUSB, or even something like bluetooth to transfer data.
My insulin pump uses IR (Infrared) transmission to transfer data from the pump to the computer and communicate a bit from the computer to the pump. To let you know how archaic this medium seems, it's the same thing that turns your TV on and off, it's the same thing that revolutionized the TV watching experience for the littlest kid in the family as they didn't have to get up to change the channel via a knob. In the long run, the issue for me was that with my previous insulin pump, the only way for me to get data off of it was to use an archaic system that ran only on Internet Explorer. With my new insulin pump, I have to use a software package that is installed on my local windows machine and talks to the API of a third-party company called diasend. Diasend does a great job of improving the experience, but it still doesn't help to have to use an IR communication device to pull data off of my insulin pump. The reason why this connection is so important is that there is quite a bit of specialized hardware to get data off of the insulin pump.
In the end, the only solution is to bake more technology into the technology, but there is then a lot of issues with HIPPA and specifically hacking concerns because if there's an open communication interface it's able to be hacked if not properly secured. Both posts part 3 and today kind of tell you why that's not something that is as easily patched as it is on a cell phone which is always connected to the internet and receiving updated information, it's also not connected to the internet which means it's less likely to be hacked. What does a hacked insulin pump look like? I don't think we'll ever find out, because there is a solid reason that these kinds of things remain unconnected from the public internet. Would I love to be able to get an e-mail to review trends in a semi-realtime stream? Yes, but I also realize that there are other pieces that need to improve/update first.