People with diabetes might see it as one of those “good news, bad news” situations. As research into diabetes progresses, more and more devices are invented to make life easier for diabetes patients. But as more and more technology options come along, it becomes difficult for people to understand and compare the various devices.
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To help diabetes patients, healthcare experts at the Stanford University School of Medicine have just released what they call the DiabetesWise Device Finder. DiabetesWise is an initiative created by a Stanford team headed by Korey Hood, PhD, a diabetes specialist. Its aim is to “help you find the right diabetes devices for your lifestyle.”
Hood, who has type 1 diabetes himself, says, “We were very much motivated by our own experiences living with diabetes, so we created the tool we wish we had when we were looking for the right diabetes technology for ourselves. There wasn’t a standalone place for people to learn about diabetes devices and compare them side-by-side. Before DiabetesWise, people had to visit each manufacturer’s website or rely on a referral from a provider who may not know about every available technology. And most importantly we wanted to create a free and unbiased resource. We aren’t funded by any device manufacturer, so we can have honest discussions about the pros and cons of different technologies.”
Using the DiabetesWise Device Finder
A good place to begin is in the section titled “Check Up,” which is a questionnaire in which users are asked to supply information about their diabetes experience, such as how difficult it has been living with diabetes, whether you feel you’re failing with your diabetes routine, and what priorities you have when it comes to choosing devices (ease of use, cost, comfort and so on). Then, in the section called “Device Finder,” users will find the specific information they need to help them sort out their options. This section has five parts: “Sensor and Smart Pump,” “Sensor and Pump,” “Meter and Pump,” “Sensor and Injections,” and “Meter and Injections.” The website also has a useful collection of “Resources.” One of them, for example, is “Get a Sensor,” which walks the user through an impressively detailed analysis of the various options. The other guides are “Get a Pump,” “Qualify for Insurance,” “Understand Costs,” “Scales and Measures,” “COVID-19” and “Talk With Your Doctor.”
When it comes to how DiabetesWise evaluates the options, Hood says, “Our team researches the various devices and creates the descriptions to help people select the right device for their needs. We have collected data on preferences, attitudes about certain devices, and what causes people to stop using them. We took all of that data and created an algorithm to predict the devices that fit that individual’s preferences and priorities. That’s how the Device Finder and Check-Up work on the website — the person answers a series of questions and then our data tools point the person to certain devices. They can also listen to stories of others who have used those devices.” These interviews with device users can be illuminating. One pump user, for example, said, “I started using a pump in 2000. I started using a sensor around 2012. I love love love my sensor and the freedom it has given me to exercise…..” Another admitted, “This idea of having this thing attached to me was super scary… But once I got on a pump, I’ve never really had fallout where people are treating me different.” And a third pump user confessed, “I was not happy in the beginning, but you can get used to anything really. I’m glad that I didn’t bail out too early. I know a lot of people who have bailed out early, and their lives could be totally different if they had stuck with it.”
Hood’s research team is now analyzing how well the website is working. As he explains, “We just wrapped up a study with 500 people with diabetes who we tracked for up to six months to see how they used the website and how it impacted their device use. We want to make our tool as effective as possible and we look forward to sharing more about our impact soon.”