{Note: this is second in a two-part series aimed not only at patients, but those in the Pharma industry as well.}

I was interviewed the other day for an upcoming story about Sanofi-Aventis' new strategy to not just offer individual diabetes products, but become a "full diabetes management vendor." They are not alone.  Medtronic, Roche, Bayer, Abbott and others are among the big industry players talking about more of a "systems approach" to diabetes as well.

These Big Pharma companies are looking for a "full solution" for two reasons: 1) they've finally caught on that patients need a full array of tools to support this complex illness, and 2) related, they realize that they can no longer stay competitive selling just one kind of device or treatment (i.e. for example, glucose meters are becoming 'commoditized'.)

I agree that a "full management system" is what we need! Not just a meter that happens to connect to some proprietary data logging software.  And not just a pump that happens to connect to the same company's CGM system. But a "powerful, complete, and integrated system that allows you to implement, document, and evaluate your program."  This means both technology components that talk to each other, and also help from health professionals in uploading results, and changing program and meter/pump settings, etc.

While I think it's great that companies are looking towards integrated systems, I want to note that it can't simply be an excuse for them to lock patients in to buying seven different products only from them, because these items only communicate which each other.

What I'm saying is: we need interoperability here! There ought to be a standard protocol so that all products storing diabetes data can 'talk to each other,' and connect to each other and to computers and Smartphones using standard data formats and standard cables.

If this seems like an impossible task in the Pharma arena, just take a moment to think back a few years in the history of enterprise and consumer technology.  There was no USB.  People were still shouting at Bill Gates about holding users hostage; Microsoft acquiesced, promising open connections and data portability. If they can do it, the Diabetes World can do it too.

Have a look at one patient's vision, the "Diabetes Data Cloud," an entry in last year's DiabetesMine Design Challenge:

And finally, speaking of standards: why are there none even for important features like how insulin dosing is handled on pumps?  I recently learned that every pump manufacturer has a different way of dealing with IOB (Insulin on Board), either accounting for corrections or not.  This can lead to the scary eventuality of over-correcting and overdosing on insulin — which btw endangers patients much more than an automatic insulin shut-off feature in case a patient's BG drops too low (something Medtronic can offer with its Veo combo system in Europe but has not been approved for use here).  Are you listening, FDA?!

Now is the time that our collective patient voice is finally being heard. Now is the time to speak up and demand better, more interoperable D-management systems. IMHO.

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.