Standards for Diabetes Device Interoperability

A fellow individual with diabetes from Germany has braved the open sea and sailed around the globe despite his living with type 1 diabetes.

But when it comes to getting his or her D-devices to talk to each other and share information, experience sailor Bastian Hauck feels it is like sailing against the wind into rocky waters.

“I have four apparatus, three cables, and a single app… that is the problem we face today,” the 34-year older type 1 mentioned. “What is going electronic and I could connect to everyone with social media on my smart phone, Bluetooth and WiFi, GPS and SIRI… but my diabetes apparatus do not (link).”

Armed with an insulin pen, Accu-chek meter, and Dexcom G4 CGM (continuous glucose monitor), Bastian uses an iPhone app to monitor his information. But he wants the apparatus to be equipped to talk to each other, with no arduous workarounds.

This was the impetus for Bastian to attend the recent Digital Health Summit, a new portion of the yearly Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the world’s biggest technology gathering that brought tens of thousands to Las Vegas from Jan. 7-10. Anxious to inform his D-story and help inspire the electronics world to find the need for device interoperability, Bastian teamed up with the global non-profit Continua Health Alliance, an industry group focused on criteria for medical devices to communicate information and synch up to operate collectively.

“This is all about freedom of choice, to choose which devices you need to use and also have them all link and also come together in the same way,” Bastian said.

Diagnosed in December 1997 at age 19, Bastian had graduated from high school and was working on an ambulance as an alternative to military service. His strategy: to sail around the world, starting on the Baltic Sea in northern Germany where he is from. His D-diagnosis halted that plan, though, and everyone advised against him setting out on the planet’s waters. Bastian instead went back to school and studied business management, then headed to the Middle East to find out Arabic and French and research political economics.

Bastian went on to become a Middle East expert working in the German Council on Foreign Relations, but in 2007, with a decade of diabetes beneath his belt along with his lifelong dream of drifting still beckoning, he put out to adopt that fire. He even took a year’s sabbatical and purchased his own ship — a 50-year-old small wooden sailing vessel, which he named the Tadorna.

Getting prepared for the excursion was a massive job, including procuring sponsors and all of the equipment needed for sailing, and also researching everything from the minutiae of hypos and hyperglycemia to sea illness to insurance requirements which may affect his plans. He pulled it off leaving Berlin for the Baltics in May of 2008, and made his way around the world! Afterwards, Bastian spent several months in 2010 as part of a yacht crew, which makes diabetes awareness a regular portion of the safety directions for everyone on deck.

Through the past several decades, Bastian is now a recognized face of diabetes awareness and advocacy — taking on speaking engagements, founding the Adventure Diabetes blog (English translated site coming soon!) , also on World Diabetes Day 2012 he launching the most recent DOC (diabetes online community) routine Twitter chat for Germany (see hashtag #dedoc).

Bastian credits his successes to the accuracy and trustworthiness of health technology, allowing him to adopt his passion for sailing and convince others that he could manage his sickness effectively while outside on the water. But still, he wants more than what current devices provide. And so he’s turned into a kind of spokesperson for integrated mobile technology D-devices. Of course, that job took him CES at Las Vegas, in which the 2013 Digital Health Summit was underway.

Taking a break from his busy schedule on the showroom floor, Bastian talked with me on the phone for a few minutes over the background sound. Also joining the call was Continua’s chief executive officer Chuck Parker. Remember that Continua was in the conference to promote their job in general, not to announce any big new advancement in criteria establishment. Largely, the buzzword was “plug-and-play 101.”

What does Continua do precisely? Besides producing guidelines for the healthcare sector to utilize in implementing technology standards set by policy-makers, Continua also includes its product certificate program that ensures interoperability from the apparatus, through the hub, and on a network that joins to health records interfaces. Parker says more than 70 private health apparatus have finished that certificate testing, ranging from sensors to app hosting apparatus and electronic health records (EHRs); more than a dozen products that measure glucose are included.   In the past year, states like Denmark and Singapore have fully adopted the Continua guidelines and more are planning to do so, ” he explained.

In the national level, the U.S. has been slower to come on board, but he said the next two years will probably be a “critical time” because newer technologies is enabling better interoperability and the emerging Affordable Care Act will support companies to follow what’s known as the Meaningful Use 3 (MU3) needs — a set of criteria that regulate the use of electronic health records and permit suppliers to make incentive payments for utilizing EHRs.

In the past year, low-energy technology that’s in the core of the latest Bluetooth 4.0 has made it more cost-effective and feasible for companies to make their products share information and work together, Parker explained. A few diabetes businesses are on board — Roche (Accu-Chek), Medtronic, and Novo Novartis — he says others are getting more receptive, particularly since the JDRF is presently forcing businesses to join this alliance and work toward interoperability (!) .

Thankfully the topic of “getting to interoperability” was revived in the Diabetes Technology Society Meeting last November, also Continua was a part of that assembly. The patient community’s call for interoperability(see the video!) Was likewise a core tenet of this year’s DiabetesMine Innovation Summit, also in November, also Continua was present there as well.

Are we getting there any time soon?

“We’re seeing a shift in apparatus, and improvements like a much longer battery life because of Bluetooth low-energy makes it increasingly feasible to utilize the most advanced data connectivity technologies, since it eliminates the concern of draining the battery too fast,” Parker explained. “We’re moving at a decent rate, and the FDA has been more responsive so the regulatory bit has picked up in the past couple years.”

Dr. Joseph Cafazzo, who directs the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation in the University of Toronto and whose team hosted the Standards Discussion in the Diabetes Technology Society meeting last autumn, has been observing and working to the diabetes interoperability dilemma for a while.

As we reported in mid-November, his team was working hard to set a D-Data interoperability platform, collaborating with various established criteria organizations: Continua, the IEEE 11073 apparatus group (concentrated on hospital medical apparatus, and today also on private heath devices), along with the Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) special interest group for health programs.

“Standards make an ecosystem around products so that you can leverage the apparatus, not just for this one manufacturer but for everyone,” he explained. Amen!

New Bluetooth 4.0 technology that has lately been added to brand new Android, iPhone and Mac versions is forecast to lead medical apparatus to become more receptive and more easily integrated in far lower energy level. Having guidelines and certificate from Continua in place helps fuel that development, Cafazzo explained.

“(Diabetes businesses) can ignore the criteria entirely, but it is becoming harder to accomplish that. And it is almost foolish… There’s very little explanation for makers to not weave this into their products, and I think we’ll see more of that action coming in the next calendar year.”

Dr. Joseph Cafazzo, on compelling for interoperability of diabetes apparatus

Still, Cafazzo knows there is much left to do. And the patient community is a substantial portion of this, he says.   We patients need to be the “wind in the sails” and keep up the strain, such as Bastian is performing, to allow device-makers are aware there’s a market for this particular — “and a ready cross-section of the diabetes community that is willing to cover this interoperability.”

“The end goal is to knock down barriers (to open platforms) these devices are not being made at a proprietary manner,” Cafazzo explained.

He notes that frequently, the kind 1 community is the most outspoken, but it is crucial for the type 1 and type two communities to combine here, bringing the power of this “type 2 epidemic” and those great numbers of PWDs to prove that this issue is worth pursuing.

“We’re seeing some really fantastic progress, and we are getting to the point where a number of companies are on board, money’s being spent, researchers are analyzing this… It’s all coming together. I am really optimistic that these initiatives have started to bear fruit”

We sure hope so! Particular thanks to Bastian Hauck for being both an inspiration in sports for PWDs and a outspoken advocate for more useful D-devices!

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.


This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog concentrated on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and does not adhere to Healthline’s editorial guidelines. To learn more about Healthline’s venture with Diabetes Mine, please click here.

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