autoimmune research, digital health

Tidepool – Elegant visuals tell an important story for people with Type 1 diabetes

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Have you ever noticed a problem and wondered why no one fixed it sooner?

That is exactly what Howard Look, who has been the Vice President of Software and User Experience at TiVo, Pixar and Amazon, was thinking when his daughter got type 1 diabetes in 2011.  Given his background outside of healthcare, he quickly noticed that the current medical devices are old and clunky and do not talk to each other.

“There was no coordinated effort to do better.  So we set off to build something that no one has built before and make the daily life of people with type 1 diabetes a little easier,” Howard explained.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease caused when the immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.  People with Type 1 diabetes are dependent on external insulin to live.

The front end of Tidepool’s first application, blip, is a beautiful, intuitive visualization.  As shown above and below, it displays a story that is easy to use for both the patient and the doctor.  The data is currently being aggregated from 4 devices-

  1. insulin pump
  2. blood glucose meter
  3. continuous glucose monitor
  4. mobile application on cell phone

Future plans include a decision support system to a research dashboard to an artificial pancreas telemetry interface. Importantly, the blip’s messaging interface allows parents and caregivers to interact in a fun, productive way.

When I think about the future of open scientific data collaboration, I get excited about the “Mozilla of diabetes platforms.”  Tidepool is an open, cloud-based platform. Developed on GitHub, they are enlisting the open development community to help them develop and extend the scalable platform, which has no limit to the incoming data. They are also building applications on top of the Tidepool Platform that help to bring together data from multiple sources in a vendor-neutral way.

A self-sustaining non-profit seems like a well thought out way to bring collaboration to a fragmented industry.   The source code for the Tidepool Platform and applications will be available for free to all.  They plan to be self-sustaining by the end of 2015, by also offering its platform as a hosted service to commercial device makers.

“ We just want to make life easier for those with type 1 diabetes.  We have taken the approach to give everything to the community.”

I find Howard’s story inspiring and I want to learn from the type 1 diabetes community and apply it to other autoimmune diseases.

So what problem do you want to tackle today?

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