Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mobile Health & Diabetes

Through my awesome new job I'm going to have an opportunity to attend some great healthcare related conferences.  Last week I was in San Diego for the MHealth conference which focused on how mobile technology can improve the efficacy of medical treatment, adherence to protocol at home and improve the overall heath outcome of a patient.  One of the subjects that came up alot was home biometric devices.

To aid in adherence biotech companies have come up with an idea to attach band aid like sensors to people to monitor everything from blood sugar to cholesterol to hydration.  I love the idea of body sensors and to have a ton of metabolic information at my finger tips.  I'm a data dork and the more information I can get about my metabolic rates the better I can manage my blood sugars and the better I can perform everyday activities.  However, this technology relies on one huge assumption - that it's accurate.

A few presentations I saw talked about constant glucose monitors, and Dexcom was mentioned!  I love my Dexcom, having the CGM gives me much tighter control over my blood sugars - but it's not accurate all the time.  A while back I talked about the night time low alarms that were occurring for no reason; for home medical technology to really drive great care those problems need to be resolved.  Accuracy needs to improve to a point that shows true trends and presents actionable data in the absence of a manual confirmation.

I do believe that home biometric devices will be a large determinant of improving medical outcomes in the future.  However, the accuracy of that technology needs to increase a great deal before home biometric monitoring becomes a driver of health.  For a pretty healthy 31 year old who understands data a false alarm on my Dexcom is no big deal, for a 70 year old on blood pressure meds a false alarm could be deadly.  Once the technology improves home biometric devices will be awesome; hopefully that day comes sooner rather than later.

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