{Note: this two-part series is aimed as much at Pharma as at patients. If you work in the industry, please read.}

If the emphasis among diabetes systems vendors last year at the annual American Diabetes Association Conference was "data visualization," then this year's was "data interpretation." I am 100% more enthused about the latter, and I'll tell you why.

It seemed that last year, all the big players — J&J, Medtronic, Abbott Diabetes, Roche, and even pump company Insulet (which was then just about to hook up its OP to CoPilot) — were quite revved up about how patients need improved ways to "visualize their data."  They seemed to think the Holy Grail was more and better graphs, charts, modal day and modal week and conformance reports and this view and that view...  I have tried CoPilot and played with a few other programs, and I have to tell you, all that data, no matter how beautifully presented, can be overwhelming. And the sheer variety of ways to look at it can make me feel, well ... inadequate.

And do remember who's talking here: a technology geek and certified Type A personality. If someone like me finds it hard, imagine all the other patients out there whose eyes must glaze over facing reams of BG stats.

What I'm getting at is that many of these programs are possibly dishing up visualization overload, without helping us patients to extract anything meaningful out of it all. It is HARD to translate that data into what you need to DO next. Another problem is that compared to "consumer-ish" logging apps made for the iPhone, pharma's programs like CareLink and CoPilot seem very geared towards physicians in their look and feel.  But as we all know, physicians don't have much time (or incentive) to pour over all this data. So it's largely left up to us patients to figure what all those pie charts are telling us about what we might want to change in our diabetes routines.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: reams of glucose data are only as useful as our ability to interpret them and to understand what to do about what we've learned.  So help us out here, will ya, vendors?

Aha, "data interpretation"! I was so heartened to hear manufacturers buzzing about this at the 2010 ADA expo. In particular, both Medtronic and WaveSense meter manufacturer AgaMatrix have specific plans to develop algorithms that will begin to automatically interpret your BG data for you — in the case of AgaMatrix, right on your iPhone. That means your logging software would automatically alert you to trends ("You were running high the last 4 days between 3-5pm") and may even make recommendations to combat problems ("Check lunchtime insulin:carb ratio; account for afternoon snack?").

Rumor also has it that Sanofi-Aventis is gearing up to "turn the diabetes world upside-down" with a full set of new offerings to help doctors help patients achieve better outcomes. (More on that soon, I hope)

Now we are talking. Wouldn't it be nice? Wouldn't it just make all the difference in the world if your BG data records could be translated into meaningful recommendations for you, and not just weeks after the fact?  Obviously, using a built-in algorithm doesn't guarantee that the system would always suggest the right moves, but the alerts themselves would make all that stored data "come alive." Bring it on, I say.

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.


This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.