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The Importance of Having Standards So Diabetes Devices Can Communicate

Interoperability protocols unveiled for diabetes technologies…

The communication protocols define how diabetes devices such as insulin pumps, blood glucose meters, and continuous glucose monitors talk with each other and with other devices such as smart phones and computers.

They were developed jointly by JDRF and the Center for Global eHealth Innovation at the University Health Network in Toronto, as a collaboration between industry, academia, and healthcare providers.

Currently, proprietary communications systems developed by major manufacturers make it difficult to build across platforms, according to Joseph Cafazzo, PhD, of the University of Toronto, which is a hindrance to development of the “artificial pancreas.” Cafazzo led the writing of the guidelines.

“This is a long-awaited milestone for manufacturers, researchers, and for people with diabetes,” Cafazzo said in a statement. “There are now defined, open standards where previously none were available. This will ultimately accelerate the ability of companies to produce new technologies for the improved management of diabetes and for developing artificial pancreas systems.”

Aaron Kowalski, PhD, vice president of JDRF’s artificial pancreas research, agreed that the protocols will help speed the development of artificial pancreas systems.

“Artificial pancreas systems require effective communication among pumps, sensors, and controllers, so we are very happy to at last have standard communications protocols in place,” Kowalski said in a statement. “Now, there is one less hurdle facing the development and commercialization of artificial pancreas systems and bringing these systems to people living with type 1 diabetes.”

The protocols were developed within the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering personal health devices working group, and they also are compliant with the Bluetooth special interest group profile for CGM, to make sure data can also be transmitted to medical records databases in clinics.

Practice Pearls:

  • Without standards most diabetes devices cannot communicate.
  • Currently, proprietary communications systems developed by major manufacturers make it difficult to build across platforms.
  • Artificial pancreas systems require effective communication among pumps, sensors, and controllers.

ADA, News Release 2319, 2014