Over the past few years, the manufacturers of blood glucose meters have sensibly begun to add data collection and download facilities to the meters. Reflecting the usage statistics, these companies generally only made software for the PC to work with the data. Viv and I have discussed initiating data collection and analysis on her computer but always halted after examining the options and finding them overly limited on the Mac.

This morning some idle googling led to some new information, which I blog here for reference.

HealthEngage appears to make an attractively designed program which supports Viv’s meter; the pricing is well under a C-note, which is pretty reasonable by health-care software standards. SweetSheet is a freeware tool with similar capabilities. There appear to be other choices as well.

Of course, to use this stuff, you gotta buy the cable. Seems to me last time I looked into this there was no USB cable yet.

Viv has expressed interest in the idea of blogging her diabetes care, incorporating her metering information with general bloggy goodness, which sounds interesting. The stumbling blocks we have hit in thinking about this include:

a) the peculiar issues that arise in the publications of personal disease chronicles on the web

b) a log solution that enables easy blog-style publication of the data

c) questions of anonymity

d) the previously-noted dearth of Mac-oriented diabetes resources

Of these, only b) is potentially resolvable in a technical sense, and in fact, I have spent some time think about the best way to do this. I think the best way for me to resolve this within our current blog setup is to bite the bullet on adding fields to Movable Type, preferably via plugin so that upgrades won’t compromise functionality. (It should be noted that there are extant resources for online logging.)

However, should we determine that HealthEngage is a sufficiently useful program, simply cut and pasting might be an effective way to get the data into the blog entries. This has the negative effect of making it entirely discretionary; I am not certain where Viv sits on the idea of rigorously publishing each test result. If she views the data as a side-issue in the blog concept, than this is fine. From my perspective, though, if it has the effect of easing perceived testing expectations, I’m not so much in favor of the approach.

Recently, we realized that for the past five years we have been overlooking a valuable tool. All PDAs (including most cell phones which incorporate any sort of calendaring) can provide repeating multiple daily alarms. The key to good diabetes control is first, frequent testing, and second, regularity in testing. Especially due to the househunting, we were noticing that it was becoming increasingly difficult to ensure that testing was taking place at the same time each day.

Initially, I had set an alarm on my Treo to call Viv when the test was due. A bit of thinking and I realized that the alarm could easily be set up on her phone. We have done so, and I think that Viv’s results have shown the benefits. I think I need to add one more element to the procedure, though, which is random reminder calls from me – If I could set my PDA to discard a random subset of the reminders, say, about 70% of them, and then I were to call on the random remaining 30% I think the system would be pretty near invulnerable.

As an aside, I will note that Viv and I have discussed looking for ways to integrate her phone into the care and recordkeeping regime more directly. She’s cool to the idea, and so am I, given that there is currently no easy way to even get pictures off the device – Apple dropped iSync support for it recently. There is a Washington State company, mdiabetic, which appears to be targeting mobile devices as the delivery and entry systems for server-stored healthcare and diabetes data, but in looking at their website, I have no clear idea of what they offer. Lose the buzzwords and the jargon, boys, and get back to me when your “pilot programs” phase is over.

Even if mdiabetic’s “powerful web service for the diabetes community designed to assist diabetics manage their disease and share personal health records with physicians for remote health monitoring” was transparently described, I doubt we’d use it until online dataservices over the phone are free. However, in hacking through the densely overgrown technocopy, I think I see the outlines of a valuable tool – it looks as if the objective is to link the diabetic’s phone or other remote device to the caregiver’s datastream in a communications loop.

This would theoretically mean that persons with diabetes could be providing their care team with realtime information updates regarding test results, and at the same time the phone would transparently store and report such events as scheduled visits with the care providers as well as offering access to lab reports, charted reporting, and presumably dietary information and dosage calculation aids. The differentiator here is the potential to tie the mobile device to the care team’s data flow, making it directly accessible to the person with the disease.

I’d have to say they could use some user-centered design help in crafting the marketing information at the very least. Hm…..

One thought on “Diabetes Management in a Mac home

  1. I too share the frustrations of diabetes and Mac less management. I have resorted to Virtual PC and the cable. I use an insulin pump and that really narrows the software soultions. I have considered a Filemaker implementation, but lacking skills and much needed time it is an idea only.

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