ATTD 2015 Paris at CNIT La Defence
A few months ago, I became acquainted with Aisling O’Kane, who is just finishing her PhD at UCL in the UK. She had written a paper on the need to understand how people use medical devices in everyday life, and the emotions this usage imparts as the next direction in human computer interaction (HCI) research (Using A Third-Wave HCI Approach for Researching Mobile Medical Devices ). In one of our discussions, she suggested I (well, myself and D.Dalton and B. Price) submit a poster to the Advanced Technologies & Treatments for Diabetes conference in Paris. We submitted an abstract, got accepted, and it was off to Paris.
So the big takeaways: Closed-loop, artificial pancreas, bionic pancreas, whatever you want to call it, they were pushing it big time. This was definitely the hottest subject, and there were lots of presentations, which seemed to support that this is on the near horizon. I have had my doubts as to whether this will be the “cure” for diabetes, but I left feeling more positive about it than when I arrived. Now assuming they can get the algorithms working well enough (my diabetologist is skeptical), the next question becomes what does this mean in people’s lives.
Would such a device be counter-productive to the essential issues related to lifestyle management? Will such devices be part of a trend to turning over more and more of our autonomy to machines? Lots of interesting questions here.
Katharine Barnard gave a fine talk on these and other “psycho-social” raised by a closed loop system, check out her work if you want to learn more. Her talk was excellent.
Devices, devices and more devices…
The device manufactures were a strong presence; there was a new digital insulin pen, the Datapen. They lose points for having sort of crappy looking industrial design, but this is a product that should exist. (See pic) Luckily they have improved some of the miserable interface problems of the Pendiq digital pen, which should be removed from the market, for having just a horribly hard to use interface (4 buttons control 13 functions, what is this 1979?) The datapen designers seem to have never seen an iPhone, and don’t seem to get that people want to use devices that give pleasure to use and handle. Sigh. Maybe I am wrong; perhaps the focus groups say that a product that looks like a 1990’s hospital rectal thermometer is more trustworthy. I would rather carry around something beautiful, but that is just me.
Had a fine talk with the Abbot Libre rep. It sounds like they will be trying to make more connected devices, we all know that the future is in connectivity (don’t we?), and the rep seemed to be quite aware of this. Looking forward to the day that the Libre sensor just keeps sending a nice encrypted stream to my watch. It looks like they have enough space inside the device for BT, so I assume they didn’t pursue this route for regulatory reasons. Also talked to Dexcom, who made big news, by moving towards a system that will interface with non-proprietary devices. They know their profit is in the disposable sensor, so being able to use a 3rd party watch shouldn’t hurt their profit model. They will move towards placing all signal processing inside the wearable device, so that the data can be received on an non-medical unregulated device, i.e. smartphone or smartwatch. Big thanks to Nightscout (www.nightscout.info) for making the FDA de-regulate devices which simply display data streams. On an interesting note, the device manufacturers are pushing hard on opening up the huge T2 market for diabetes tech, time will tell how effective this proves to be. Studies haven’t really proven that test strips help non-insulin dependent diabetics with long-term outcomes, so it might be a while before the insurance companies are strapping a cgm and pump on every T2 person.
Some great people:Great talk with Brandon Arbiter of Tidepool in San Francisco. Really like their concept of creating a non-profit platform for connecting diabetes device data, from proprietary devices and into the cloud. They are embracing an open model, with the hope that app developers will build on their structure. This makes all the sense in the world, and am very curious what will come out of it. If anyone has money burning a hole in his or her pocket, please consider donating to this promising effort. The device manufactures seem to be cooperating by giving them access and agreeing that we own our data (tidepool.org).
Another highlight was meeting Eirik Arsand of the Norwegian Centre for Telemedicine (NST), I have read many of his papers on diabetes and tech, and he and his group are real pioneers in this field. He showed me his newest project; a pebble watch based diabetes-logging system. They just published their first study, just got the paper, but have not yet read it. It is in my Zotero library, just waiting! I really like moving logging from the phone, to the watch, and once again Eirik is leading the way. Also met David Klonoff editor of the Diabetes and Technology Journal, another big name in the field. Was super impressed with Saleh Adi, from UCSF diabetic pediatrics. Everything he said about diabetes care made sense, if I had a diabetic child, can’t think of a better doctor to have. Was also very impressed by David Maahs, another big proponent of closed loop system. Definitely impressed me with his thoughts. And met the Imperial college diabetes engineering group, but will leave that to next posting.
So big takeaways:
This is a great time for diabetes and technology. The mass consumerization of the needed technologies for better information and therefore better computer assisted decision support is happening now. What is also really needed is the ability to design great products, which people will want to use. User experience matters! And people were talking about this at the conference. We diabetics need to influence these products so they work for us, not just accept whatever the companies feel like producing. We need to figure out how to speak up, and be heard.
All in all, for me this was a great event, (despite the mediocre food, come on this is Paris, the food should be awesome!) Spent most of my time out on the floor meeting people. Lots of very dedicated and hard working people. Onward!