The BBC’s Lara Lewington reports on how a paramedic Parent wanting to track her diabetic daughter’s blood glucose readings when she was at school has had to find the funds from her family to pay for a Dexcom CGM and then hack it so that the data can be viewed remotely on her smartphone.
I’m not surprised to see this happening as the idea of something so important as a glucometer being unconnected doesn’t make sense to the born mobile generation and the Create/Share/DIY economy lends itself to fixing hairball problems created by unaccountable regulators but the BBC video also gave me a few thoughts that I thought might be helpful to share:
“Every Parent worries about their child but for paramedic Rachel Graham those concerns are particularly challenging. At just 8 years old her daughter Isabelle was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes meaning her blood glucose needs to be closely monitored to avoid serious complications. Rachel can’t be with her all the time so with night shifts commonplace she needs to find a reliable reassuring way of keeping track. “Even when she’s being looked after by my mum or even her dad they’ll do a blood sugar check and think ‘oh I must let Rachel know about that” but 20 mins later they’ve forgotten and then I am left at work thinking ‘oh I don’t know how her blood sugars are today’…”
This is a very commonplace problem for carers that has already been solved and consigned to the history books by Telcare’s FDA Cleared and CE Marked mobile embedded glucometer and Diabetes Pal app.
Watch this KENS5 news story from 3 years ago that explains how Parents just like Rachel have had their lives transformed from the availability of this important data on the device they always carry with them.
“(Lara Lewington) This is a blood sugar monitor, a pretty standard piece of kit for any type 1 diabetic. You prick your finger with the needle and then you can read the results on the screen but these days people have an appetite for a lot more data than that, they want to be able to keep track of their readings and sometimes even share them with other people in real time and that’s something that Rachel has found a solution for”
I think here’s where a fundamental problem lies for many people looking at the diabetes market as an outsider with a technology interest. Look closely at the glucometer and you’ll see what I mean:
You see it reads ‘Mobile’? Well the reality is that this medical device that consumes incredibly expensive test strips is about as ‘mobile’ as the calculator that you had in your desk at school 20 years ago. The data on it’s screen typically goes nowhere and when it does it’s not being shared with carers in real time.
It’s about time we listened to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) call for mHealth to be “embedded within healthcare programmes” because in 2015 “it’s not an optional add on extra but it’s part of how we do good healthcare with people who have diabetes“.