MASSDEVICE ON CALL — More and more patients are hacking into their glucose monitors to add functionality, with medical device companies lagging behind as they work their own improvements through the FDA, according to the Wall Street Journal.
One example is NightScout, an open-source software program that hacks into a Dexcom Inc. (NSDQ:DXCM) monitor and uploads its data to the Internet. The information can then be relayed to smart phones and devices, allowing diabetic patients (and, in many cases, their parents) to monitor their blood sugar levels wherever they are.
NightScout was designed by a "constellation" of software engineers, the Journal reported. It’s only 1 of several instances just within diabetes of patients taking medical technology into their own hands. Examples include a program to control a Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) insulin pump from a laptop; a non-profit effort called TidePool that aims to improve data displays from diabetes devices; a "do-it-yourself pancreas" that uses a DexCom monitor, data about meals and estimates of insulin uptake to calculate insulin dosages; and even a commercial startup, Smartloop, that’s developing a smart-phone app also designed to calculate insulin dosages, according to the newspaper.
Outside of diabetes, patients have tweaked hearing aids, created prosthetics with 3-D printers and tinkered with a device that measures acidity in the esophagus, according to the report.
Medical device makers, including DexCom and Medtronic, are chasing these patient innovators with their own high-tech upgrades. But the FDA’s more-stringent approval process means that functions available overseas are still wending their way through the watchdog agency. DexCom is planning to seek the FDA’s green light for software similar to NightScout, according to the Journal, and NightScout itself has filed its own application with the agency.
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