March 27, 2013

Pontificating about Downloading, Oh Yeah and t:connect

At the Diabetes Mine Summit last November Dr. Sidhu of U.C. Berkeley estimated that only one in ten diabetes patients download "stuff". By stuff I mean meters, pumps, cgms, etc. So 90% can't be bothered. 

My feelings about why not are fairly simple. Downloading typically hasn’t worth the extra effort. Some may exclaim ‘but it is your kids’ health!’ Exactly. Diabetes already takes a lot of effort. So extra effort on top of that better come with some serious marginal utility.
Remember marginal utility? They talked about it and widgets way back in economics 101. For the record widgets in economic 101 had no marginal utility for me. Get it? Ha ha ha! I made an economics joke. - Holy crap, am I a nerd or what?
My download experiences with the kids' stuff is it was a PITA to connect it all and that was made worse by the requirements to use a PC not my Mac. (I am not enough of a nerd to think that running a Windows partition on my Mac is Mac compatible.) Some devices needed to be disconnected bla bla bla. In return the data from the pump, meter and CGM all went into different programs and making connections between events was less than easy. 

I wrote this in 2007:
Type 1 isn’t all about the numbers. It is about kids living their lives. That said there are one hell of a lot of numbers. We gotta deal with the numbers, so we can love the kids as kids. Nobody need love the numbers. 
There are a ton of little electronic machines that produce billions and billions of numbers (and about as many strips on the floor.) At times it seems we are floundering in a sea of data points (and strips on the floor.) Unfortunately each machine speaks its own language. What we need is the UN. United Numbers.

We still need United Numbers.

Our friends at Tandem have entered the market with their take on data download. It is called t:connect and is said to available as of yesterday. They were nice enough to let me sit in on web thing about it Monday,  particularly given we don’t use Tandem’s t:slim (I expect the kids will look at it when the next pump renewal comes around.)  My experience with t:slim and t:connect it is limited. Still they seem to have a few things right. 

Their program can connect to PCs and Macs. he t:slim pump is rechargeable and that can happen via the USB cable connected to a computer. While the pump is charging it can sync data. I would love to see it be wireless connectivity but while your are charging is at least a step towards less extra effort. Some meters can also be downloaded by t:connect with the afore mentioned extra effort of finding the meter and cableand hooking them up.  On the plus side the pump remembers the BG numbers you gave it when doing a bolus calculation so some meter data is gonna get there even if you, like me, can’t be bothered to bring the meter to meet the computer. All the information floats off your computer and up into the cloud. You can see it on web enabled devices including mobile. Your device may vary. (See how I did that - YDMV)

Yay team, that seems a little less extra effort. 

The other side of the coin is, does it provide useful data? I poked around a little with a friends account. (Thanks that was very generous. Now change the password so I can't get in anymore, it is your data.)

I liked the reports and when and if t:slim and Dexcom get together there is a lot more potential. I specifically like the combination of the IOB (and it even showed stacked IOB), BG and basals. That seems like a tool that could be useful to help manage a kid tough the ongoing basal rate changes of adolescence. (Consult your physician, I am not suggesting any off label use, YDMV, etc.) So some marginal utility with lower user effort. That is the right direction. Here is a peak at a t:connect report, (this if from a t:connect demo not my friend's data.) 

t:connect looks like real if incremental improvement. That is how diabetes care works right? I look forward to seeing Tandem users' blog posts with more detail. In fact Wil has a piece on Diabetes Mine so have a look, 

The shaded IOB running off reminds me of this

Seems like today was talking about technology day over at SixUntilMe too, Kerri wrote Don’t be an Apphole. Brilliant bit that also manages to talk about diabetes management programs without using economics 101 geek speak. 

For more information on t:connect:

Will on t:connect at Diabetes Mine:

My prior musings on downloading, parenting, devices and more are here:


  1. Thanks for this post and the shout-out about the Summit, Bennet. Just wanted to note that the downloading data presented by Dr. Sidhu came from Close Concerns.

  2. Thanks Amy. Kelly, Adam and the Close Concerns team do great stuff.