Data has been described as having evolved from a by-product of business to become its driving force with industry leaders using data analytics to drive change. If they’re doing it, then diabetics using the right equipment can do it too. Got a smart blood test meter? Then download your data and study it. Got an insulin pump? Then ditto, with digital knobs on.
As well as making calls, keeping in touch via text and even sorting out your social media missives, Smart phones seem to have encouraged many people to monitor their health and wellbeing. Such users are called ‘self-trackers’ – sound familiar? More than any other medical condition, diabetics keep track of their own symptoms (or results, in the form of blood tests) as well as judge and administer their own medication.
You may already be using a ‘smart meter’, such as the Verio iQ, which does pattern management – it’s not a bolus wizard but pattern alert technology. Using these technologies will ‘warm you up’ to the technologies used in insulin pumps, so that if (or when) you go on a pump, it’s not such a big deal.
There are a few options in terms of insulin pumps available in the UK. Only one so far is a patch pump – the Omnipod. The handheld shows all the graphical information and acts as the controller – you programme your bolus doses and basal rates from this which are sent to the patch to deliver. The handheld is also a blood test meter. So it contains both blood meter results and all insulin dosing activity.
The Medtronic pumps and Accu-Chek’s Combo both still have tubing that attaches the pump to the infusion site. With the Combo there is a pump plus a hand-held device, the Accu-Chek Expert, which is a blood test meter and also controls the insulin delivery of the pump.
Paul Morris, who uses the Accu-Chek Combo while undertaking long cycling events (see the news pages for more on his exploits) says: “In the Combo’s handheld device, all the data comes together – your doses (both basal and boluses) as well as blood test results. All on a colour screen and one that’s not linked to your body via tubing. In addition, Accu-Chek’s 360 is an excellent tool.”
Medtronic’s Minimed Paradigm Veo, it works in association with the Bayer Contour Link blood test meter which sends all blood tests results to the pump then into its bolus wizard calculator.
The Animas Vibe pump has an onboard bolus wizard and has basic carbs-and-cals info installed too for carb-counting ‘on the go’. It’s personalisable via customized settings based on your own insulin profiles. Animas Vibe partners with Diasend for downloading data which can be quickly and easily done can be done at clinic or at home. The pump screen has colour arrows that show if your blood sugars are trending up, or going down. It also indicates how much insulin you already have on board. So you can assess what’s going on with just a glance at the screen.
It also works with the Dexcom Continous Glucose Monitor (CGM). This tracks the glucose levels in your interstitial body fluid via a sensor, which attaches to the body in a similar way to a pump infusion set. It then shows on its own screen your trends and patterns. Because the glucose level that can be tested in your interstitial body fluid is 10-15 minutes ‘behind’ that of your blood test, if you are going to do a bolus you really ought to do a blood test first to get the most up-to-date reading.
Frida Arvidsson from Diasend explains, “With the Animas Vibe, the download is done in two ways — you can see some details on the pump screen or data is downloaded with Diasend either in the clinic (no software needed) or from the patient’s home with software called Diasend Uploader and an infrared cable that is provided in the pump starting pack by Animas.”
Both the Healthcare Professional and the patient see the same data (this is not the case with all systems) and the software is compatible with both Mac and PC. The data even can be viewed on any device – such as a smart phone or tablet – so long as it has internet access. There is a support/technical helpline available both from Animas and Diasend.
In terms with how often you might do a download, that really is up to you, but in terms of sharing it with your HCP, that’s something you need to discuss and agree with them.
Frida adds, “In terms of the ability to download data, the feedback we receive is that being able to visualise the data in clear, structured tables and graphs transforms the time spent with the doctors and nurses to something really useful. It gives patients the ability to highlight patterns and trends, things to be mindful of, and makes it easier to manage their diabetes. The doctors and nurses themselves also feel it transforms the quality of the consultations. The Diasend system is compatible with most devices on the market today and consolidates the data into one set of reports they feel it makes it quick and easy to download all devices and analyse the data.”
A new era of wearable technology is dawning. The iWatch cometh – how would you like a computer operating system on your wrist? What about a pair of Google Glasses? You could then watch data streaming into your spectacles. Or wear an Seo headband when you sleep to assess how much REM you’re getting. Or keep a fitbit about your person — a tiny pedometer that keeps tracks of your footsteps daily. And, lucky diabetics can wear a permanent insulin pump – current models are mainly those with tubing, the newer ones are ‘patch’ pumps, where insulin is delivered from a patch that’s worn on the body. Insulin delivery, in terms of bolus and basal rates, is managed from a hand-held device that doubles up as a blood test meter too, with instructions being sent via Bluetooth or wireless connections.
Maybe one day, if your pump is compatible with other wireless devices, you might be seeing your blood test logs on your wristwatch.
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