Thursday, September 15, 2016

Diabetes data platforms need competition

I received the recent news of Diasend and Glooko merger with mixed feelings. My main concern is the openness of the joint platform. Will it be possible for other apps to use the data? Ultimately, will it be possible for people with diabetes to upload their data once to a safe location, and then use the apps and gadgets they choose to make sense of that data in a way that best supports their individual goals?

Diasend have discussed opening an API for third party applications and developers for some time now. I have assumed they just lacked resources to make it available (although they never explicitly stated they would make that API open for anyone). Glooko, on the other hand, have never made any promises regarding an API. They do refer to a platform, but that's a much more vague term.

In their take on the news, Tidepool state that they don't consider themselves competitors to Diasend and Glooko. In a way, I'm disappointed. Competition is one of the key driving forces of innovation. We definitely do need that in the diabetes data management market. We need companies, nonprofits, and independent developers competing, for instance with the following:

  • Who will be the first to build an open platform for all the data people with diabetes need to see together?
  • Who will be the first to release a truly universal uploader, supporting all the different hardware we use?
  • Who will create the best developer experience, attracting all the best apps to be connected with the platform?
  • Who will build the best architecture, combining security and privacy features while enabling easy sharing of data between stakeholders.
  • Who will build the best user experience, making it easy to use the above mentioned tools?

We've seen how Nightscout, the open source project lead by independent developers on their free time, has helped commercial vendors bring their products to the market faster. Having the technology out there both validates the need for it and puts pressure on the companies to introduce their own solutions in order to not miss the train. In the case of Nightscout, it also put pressure on the regulator to approve the new commercially available technology in an accelerated procedure.

We do need the same with the diabetes apps ecosystem, with the data management platforms. I do believe that once we see the first platform that really enables upload from the most used glucometers and insulin pumps, and makes that data available for all third party applications, we see a quantum leap of innovation. We see that data actually being used. Used in many ways we currently dream of, and also in ways we cannot yet even imagine. I see the lack of such a platform as the biggest bottleneck of innovation currently.

At Sensotrend, we've from the beginning seen our own offering as a service that runs on Personal Health Record (PHR) platforms. On generic PHRs like Apple's Health and Microsoft's HealthVault, but also on PHRs focused on diabetes. We would really like to see Glooko, Nightscout, and Tidepool becoming such platforms. And we'd like to see them competing on who's the first one!


  1. Recent Diabetes Mine / Healthline interview does not promise much in terms of an open platform either:

    "In general, we offer API access to enterprise customers. We will continue to consider each API access request on a case-by-case basis."

  2. Luckily there is actually quite a bit of competition coming up, beyond just Tidepool and Nightscout. See for instance Diabeto!