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American Diabetes Month 2015 - Day 9: Medical Technology Part 3

Day 9.  It's been an interesting series of events since I started my blog posts, but that happens over a 10-day period all of the time.  Today's post is a continuation in the Medical Technology series, feel free to read parts 1 and 2 before, but it's not necessary.  One of the biggest holes in technology with respect to diabetes is the software.

Disclaimer: I am a software developer for a healthcare IT company.  The opinions in my blog are my own and may not necessarily be the opinion of my company.

There are many forms of software and almost all of the software needs a lot of help.  Software on the devices (CGM, Insulin Pump, Glucose Meter) is archaic and laggy.  Every piece of equipment has a similar issue.  Remember when I compared my insulin pump purchase research to researching for a new cell phone.  One of the very important factors is the quickness and efficiency of the software on these devices.  The major issues with integrating more items into a single low-power device is that the types of microprocessors that can take power from a single AA or AAA battery or even a rechargeable small-cell lithium battery.  When you think of the software on smart phones, it gets updates every year that bring some new functionality to the device, or improve issues that were previously found to be a problem.  This does not happen in the medical device space.  The last two insulin pumps I had lasted 4 years each (they still both work) but had not received a device OS/firmware upgrade while I had them.  This isn't to say that they were flawless, they had bugs, they had issues, but you learned to cope with those issues.

Firmware software issues are very hard to overcome.  Generalizing, most of the companies who make these devices don't have employees working the products who are also using the products.  This is known as "eating your own dog food" and happens in the software industry for most apps and products.  For instance, Facebook even made a pretty big announcement/change read more here.  This is one of the more important things in order to have a better product on the market.  Improving these software issues can really help out those who don't have the technical background that someone like me has.  The real issue is that my insulin pump, for instance, lacks a known data port for any sort of an update.  I haven't had an update for my insulin pump, the only update in software for a pump was because it was sent back to me with new software.  Connecting to any other software on the computer seems to be ill-advised as it can't be controlled (which I understand) but imagine still using an iPhone 3G today, try it out with the original software and no installed apps, let me know how that works for you after 4 years.

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