Some people were surprised recently to hear me say that tools for logging glucose are “not the Holy Grail of online diabetes tools.” I stand by that assertion, and I’m going to tell you why.
There are an ever-increasing number of PC and phone-based programs that allow diabetics to log and share their BG data. While this can be useful for some, there are several shortcomings for the general PWD population, the way I see it:
1) loads of PWDs out there are not motivated to keep such detailed records. It’s a helluva a lot of work, in addition to everything else we have to do!
2) BG results alone don’t mean much of anything, without corresponding food and exercise records, which most people/programs aren’t tracking (or at least not in a way that integrates with the BG data)
3) everybody’s still pretending that your “provider” (doctor) is sitting in his office just waiting to receive your message and review all this stored data. NOT. This will never happen until the insurance system in this country is reformed such that doctors are compensated for this kind of activity.
4) so you’ve logged a load of data and can view in pretty charts and graphs. Maybe you even spot a trend. So what? Now who’s going to tell you what to do about it? Yes, you can take the charts to your doctor, but wouldn’t it be better to get some immediate feedback and guidance?
This is why I’m excited about the Keas project. What Keas is trying to do — and it’s an experiment, like anything else in “Health 2.0” right now — is take these tools to the next level, by actually helping people accomplish something for their health, beyond just keeping records.
They hope to help people to understand what their data (lab results, etc.) means, and then walk people through some useful strategies for improving their long-term health. The idea is to take all this great online record-keeping capability and information, and turn into something personalized and actionable. If this model really works the way we envision it, then — in my opinion — we will be at or very near the Holy Grail of online health tools.
In short, what I’m saying is that I’m not against keeping records, of course, it just strikes me that logging a bunch of BG data or static health information doesn’t do anything on its own. Most programs don’t help you understand your lab results, let alone teach you any useful ways to do anything about it.
Still, the No. 1 issue with sophisticated BG logging is simply burnout, if you ask me. In the words of my good blogging buddy Scott Johnson, who is certainly not any lazier than the rest of us when it comes to working on our glucose control:
“I think I’ve come to the decision that there are no systems that are awesome, because logging diabetes SUCKS! It’s nothing to do with the applications or programs – but rather the daunting task of tracking everything we need to track! It is such a difficult thing to do.”
Amen. Rather than feel guilty about it, we’re on a mission to help build a better mousetrap online health tool. Wish us luck.