Monday, May 12, 2014

Stronger Together

Many things have changed since we started building our service, but our vision of doing this in cooperation with other companies is still strong.

Last week, a bunch of Finnish startups met with Microsoft's Healthvault representatives. The discussion was about creating a combined service offering for diabetes, involving services from each of the companies. There are many great health and wellness startups in Finland. Platforms like Healthvault and Taltioni are one possible glue that may join their areas of expertise into a great combined offering for healthcare.

Sensotrend's solution for diabetes treatment depends on data from other services. Of course, we need the data from blood glucose meters and continuous glucose monitors. We have integrated our solution with the devices from Medtronics, Accu-Chek, and Dexcom, but that integration always comes with a cost. Mendor have already integrated their Balance software with dozens of glucose meters from different vendors. We're working with them to get that data flowing between Balance and Taltioni.

Just the glucose readings are not enough for us. We want to visualize the measurements together with all the factors affecting them. Insulin doses, nutrition, physical exercise, stress, weight changes, etc... Modz, another device manufacturer shares our sentiment, and we're discussing how we could work together in creating such services and visualizations.

Of course, we also need data from many other sources. There are plenty of activity and wellness trackers available, and quite a few Finnish companies (Beddit, FjuulMoves, MyontecOmegawave, Polar, PulseOnRecoApp, Runteq, Sensorfit, Sports Tracker, Suunto, Vigofere,  Wellmo, ...). We want our end users to be able to select the tools and apps that best suit their individual lifestyles and needs.

W2E helps us by bringing all that data to platforms like Taltioni and Healthvault. They build the integrations to many trackers, and standardize the data to a common format.

In addition to tracking physical activity, sleep, and stress, we're still missing a key ingredient, nutrition. We can get the carbohydrate estimates from the bolus calculator integrated in insulin pumps and glucose meters. People with diabetes have a high motivation to enter their estimates to these tools, as the bolus calculator makes it easier to estimate the correct dose of insulin. But not all people with diabetes have an insulin pump system with a smart bolus calculator. For them, we need to offer other tools to enter that data.

For many people, it makes sense to track more parameters than just the amount of carbohydrates. Glycemic index indicates how fast the carbohydrates are absorbed from the meal after eating, an important metric. You should always take this into account when analyzing post meal measurements. You may also need to inject your insulin dose differently if the glycemic index of your meal is low, meaning not all of the carbohydrates are released into blood stream immediately after eating. In addition to carbohydrates, it is also important for people with diabetes to understand their overall energy consumption and to track other macronutrients: fat, protein, and alcohol.

As with exercise, we'd like to see several meal logging apps being available for people with diabetes using our service. Some apps may concentrate just on storing pictures of meals, some can help searching for nutrition information from databases, and some may educate users about different meal choices. We're in discussions with MealLogger and SeeHowYouEat, and there are still many we need to get in touch with.

The business models

Many times the discussions with app providers and device manufacturers lead to ownership of the data and of the customer relationship. We're quite happy with the solution where the full set of data only resides in the original service provider's database. There probably is no suitable slot for every piece of information in Taltioni or Healthvault anyway. For a sports tracking application, we may just store the sport, duration, and maximum or average heart rates to Taltioni. However, with that information we also want to store a link to the origin of that data, so the end users may check the full range of heart rate variations, the running course, speed, and other information in case they need more detail.

Even in this case, the personal health record platforms still have a critical role in managing trust relationships between services. It is absolutely best for the end user if they can administer all their data sharing in one place. On Taltioni or Healthvault, they can indicate which services are allowed to read which pieces of their information, and revoke that permission at any time they feel like it. It gets too messy and complicated to manage all this in different services, case by case.

Finally, we're happy to share a fair piece of income with all parties. We plan to pay the platform fee to the personal health record platforms, and another for companies that integrate and aggregate data from multiple sources so we only ever need to care for one integration, the one to the central system. We're hoping that will be an incentive for all players to participate in the ecosystem.

Because there's no way we can do all of that ourselves. And there's no way any other company can.

This post is my first entry to the Diabetes Blog Week. Today's theme is Change the World.

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