First Impressions

First Impressions

Yesterday while walking around the exhibit hall here in Vegas for CES something was missing. Yes, there was the normal collection of whiz bang way cool gadgetry and some pretty crazy stuff for expectant mothers, but that’s a story for another time. Yet having been at past shows what’s missing from this show is excitement there is no buzz no product that everyone is talking about that is a must see. Now we don’t know if the huge Powerball jackpot is getting all the attention and we must admit we find it ironic that in this state where gambling is legal Nevada is one of the few states that is NOT part of the Powerball.

In terms of diabetes gadgetry, we have yet to see anything we have not seen before. Seriously how many Bluetooth enabled conventional glucose monitors do we really need. Also in talking with some very nice people at the United HealthCare booth it’s obvious that interconnected health management not just for patients with diabetes is taking hold. The big problem is no one is quite sure how this should be done.

The way we see it this fixation on data collection is both a blessing and curse. The blessing of course comes when analytics is applied to this data and it used to help the patient better manage their diabetes. The curse comes when the patient is overloaded with information and instead of using this information to their advantage they tune out.

The solution as we see it really isn’t a new idea rather an old idea with a new twist. Way back in the day when conventional monitors dominated the diabetes landscape Diabetic Investor suggested that instead of making meters in pretty colors to increase sales why not adjust a meter for different patient groups. The fact is the needs of intensively managed Type 1 patient are far different than a non-insulin Type 2, both patients need the information yet use it very differently. This why we suggested that for a non-insulin patient instead of displaying a number the patient does not understand instead tell them what zone they are in – green for good, yellow for caution and obviously red for not good.

Looking at all these systems that now collect and transmit data it’s becoming obvious that the developers of these way cool whiz bang gadgets better start focusing on learning more about the users of these systems. That diabetes is not a one size fits all disease state and that there even difference within groups. The needs of Type 1 insulin pump patient are very different than the needs of a Type 1 following multiple daily injection therapy. This is why these way cool whiz bang gadgets might not help as the sellers of these systems have focused solely on the collection and transmission of data.

The cornerstone of IDM is that someone- a CDE, physician, nurse- will look at the patient’s data set and then communicate back to the patient.  That communication could be a phone call, email or text message. Yet no communication will be effective if it does not take into account which group the patient falls into whereas an intensively managed Type 1 wants detail, a non-insulin Type 2 wants just the basics. Put simply the message has to be tailored to the patient.

Put even more simply if IDM stands any chance at success it’s not about the hardware, the tools that collect and transmit the data. No if IDM is ever to achieve success it’s about the system or software that creates a profile, paints a picture of the person whose data is being analyzed. Far too much emphasis has been placed on the tools, the gadgets and not enough on using technology to build better patient profiles.

Perhaps this is why there is so little buzz in the healthcare section of the show. As we noted there are lots of way cool whiz bang toys to play with. Yet once you get past the way cool factor and start asking will these way cool whiz bang gadgets really help the patient the answer is very unclear. Based on what we have seen so far it looks as if we still have a long way to go before these companies realize that’s it’s not about the toys in the sandbox, it’s about the system that transforms all this data into patient relevant, patient actionable information. Systems which recognize that diabetes is not one size fits all.