Facebook about to get wacky

Facebook about to get wacky

In news that should surprise no one Facebook is about to enter the wacky world of diabetes. According to numerous reports the company has begun reaching out to experts in the field and according to Reuters; “Facebook product teams noticed that people with chronic ailments such as diabetes would search the social networking site for advice, said one former Facebook insider.”

Now it seems just this morning in fact, Diabetic Investor noted that the worlds of interconnected diabetes management, patient education and the use of incentivizes are about to collide. Given that Facebook is entering this wacky world we can now add and actually should have added the world of social media to the mix earlier today.

To Diabetic Investor adding social media this is good news, bad news.  Even before Facebook decided to jump into this world social media already has become an important source of information for people with diabetes. As we noted on many occasions there hundreds of blogs related to diabetes and each day it seems like a new one gets added to the mix. Diabetic Investor sees no problem with this on the surface it’s what lies underneath the surface that could present a problem and points to some issues that will eventually have to be dealt with in the very near future.

Although it’s not directly related Diabetic Investor points to an article that was recently published in the Wall Street Journal entitled Citizen Hackers Tinker With Medical Devices Diabetes Patients, Family Members Try to Make Glucose Monitors More Useful.  This well written piece explained how non-industry people with a family connection to diabetes aren’t waiting around for diabetes devices to become more patient friendly. Yet the article points out a major issue with what these people and why Facebook and the rest of the tech may just have an issue to address.

The article states; “The tinkering is raising concern at the FDA, medical-device companies and among some academics and clinicians that modifications are being used before they are fully tested and safe for a broad audience.”  Well the same can said about some of the advice being spread by social media. Well there are several excellent diabetes related blogs, web sites and apps it’s equally true that any idiot can write a blog, throw up a web site or build an app. Based on what Diabetic Investor has seen there are lots of idiots running around doing just that.

It should surprise no one that the money is the main motivator for these less than reputable sites, blogs or apps. It’s also true and unfortunate that the many reputable sites, blogs and apps are tainted by these charlatans. Now we all know what this means for as sure as day turns into night the FDA will step in and want to regulate sites, blogs and apps. Think this can’t happen, think again.  As we stated earlier today the FDA sees what’s going on, knows the agency must bring itself into the 21st century yet remains a government agency bogged down by outdated rules.

Yet the FDA is just the tip of the iceberg here as it will only take one death or patient hospitalization to bring another challenge; lawsuits. Yes we Americans love to sue almost as much as we like our football and no matter how many disclaimers a user must accept the basic rule is sue first ask questions later.

Granted Diabetic Investor has been giving the old guard its fair share of well-deserved grief recently but one thing they do understand are these very issues. They know dealing with the FDA isn’t just one huge pain in the rump; it’s a very expensive and time consuming pain in the rump. They are also very familiar with lawsuits and the length they most go to protect themselves.

For the moment this wacky world is also somewhat like the Wild West where anything goes. Perhaps the best analogue here is the world of mixed martial arts. Back when this sport first came around there really weren’t many rules it was basically beat the other guy into submission until they either tapped out or became unconscious. It wasn’t until some rules were put in place that MMA grew in popularity and garnered large TV contracts.

Although Diabetic Investor does not wish for greater oversight here, it might be just what the doctor ordered if the world of IDM is ever to move from a dream to reality. Our problem isn’t with the idea of regulation rather how it’s implemented. Keep in mind the FDA is agency that seems to believe that people with diabetes act like heroin addicts sharing used lancets and syringes with reckless disregard. We would hope that in the future regulation would be fair yet balanced unfortunately history tells us otherwise.

Perhaps Apple, Google, Facebook and the rest of the tech gang entering this space will spend a portion of their large cash balances to do what the old guard has been unable to do; bring the FDA into the 21st Century.  We’re not optimistic but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try. Quite frankly reforming the FDA will save more lives and bring IDM from the future into the present.