Interoperability: Why We Need It Now

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The Need for Interoperability

Do you ever wish that all your devices, diabetes and non, would just… connect? Do you feel like we’ve come a long way with all this technology, but we have a much longer way to go to ensure all this data is actually useful?

The urgency for tech to do more for all of our constant, connected devices stems from the need for interoperability.

At One Drop, we love data interoperability.

We live it. Our entire One Drop ecosystem is interoperable, from our bluetooth blood glucose meter to our app, that openly talks to Apple HealthKit and all other apps that do the same.

If we, individually and as a community, could have a comprehensive overview of everything that worked and didn’t in any given day to keep our blood sugars in-range, imagine how wonderfully we would all manage our diabetes. If every single app and device out there talked to each other, think how much more insight we would have into our personal health on a real-time, daily basis! 

This isn't a crazy concept. In fact, it's quite fathomable. 

All it requires is data interoperability.

But First: What Is Interoperability?

At its core, interoperability is the ability to meaningfully exchange data between two or more systems.

According to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Board, interoperability in the medical sense is:

the ability of different information systems, devices or applications to connect, in a coordinated manner, within and across organizational boundaries to access, exchange and cooperatively use data amongst stakeholders, with the goal of optimizing the health of individuals and populations.

Just as you might imagine, previous definitions have been adapted to fit the current (yet ever-changing) world of software, technology, and data.

Interoperability Is King

It’s king, but it’s also taking a while for many to accept, adopt, and apply.

If you have a few different devices (two or three or ten) you’re using to track blood sugar, weight, blood pressure, water consumption, and any number of countless other variables that come with diabetes management, it can be extremely difficult (i.e., discouraging) to collect and store all your data in a way that ultimately helps you live better.

But when you are able to easily collect all of the data you need, passively, (no more manual entries), and allow for all that data to collect easily in one place, you have all the important information you need in one spot.

It’s at that moment, when all your passively-collected data is in one place that you can easily access, that you’re able to better see the information that can help you manage diabetes better.

And ultimately, live better.

Where Are We Now?

If your pump doesn’t “talk” to your meter, they are likely not yet interoperable. In the same regard, if your water tracking app doesn’t “talk” to your One Drop app, interoperability doesn’t exist there, either.

To be clear, the One Drop app talks to almost everyone -- we “talk” (or, in more technical terms, “write”) to Apple HealthKit right now.

We let data freely flow from our app to Apple, and beyond. Because we believe data sharing is key to learning how best to manage our diabetes.

And because we already talk to so many other apps out there, we've been able to pool billions of data points to create blood glucose forecasts (One Drop Automated Decision Support is just one of many amazing things that can happen through interoperability): 

But beyond those of us in this pro-interoperability space, the majority of the diabetes market is in isolation.

Diabetes technology, and health technology in general, is siloed.

It’s inconvenient, closed-off, requires full dependence on the healthcare system, discourages any proactivity from the patient, and focuses more on the needs of the healthcare providers than the people with diabetes.

Where Should We Be?

We need to get to a place where all the great strides we’ve made thus far with our with devices, medical and non, can seamlessly integrate and transfer all this fruitful information to each other.

All my diabetes data (and yours!) is out there. We simply need it to all connect. Because what's the point of having all this data if we can't act upon it?

We need all device manufacturers to be user-first obsessed so that these marvelously life-changing machines continue to change our lives for the better.

Right now, it’s tech’s biggest hurdle. But we can get there.

What can you do in the meantime?

Contact people like Benjamin West and Dana Lewis, who are literally hacking the system already.

Use Tidepool to get all your current machines hooked up and talking to each other. 

Use your One Drop app and Apple HealthKit to aggregate your currently-interoperable health data in one place.

Familiarize yourself with all that’s happening in the world of data democratization.

Let’s work together, and get this done.

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Mary Elizabeth Adams
Jul 25, 2019

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