In a previous post, I discussed two radical but innovative approaches being taken to help diabetics cope with this chronic disease. Now, from Cambridge Consultants, comes a new concept using Near Field Communication (NFC) that allows a glucose monitor to interact with a glucose pump. When necessary, the monitor allows the patient to trigger the release of just the right dose of insulin by the pump.
According to Cambridge, NFC "was jointly developed by Philips and Sony, NFC is a combination of contactless identification and interconnection technologies that enables secure short-range communication between electronic devices, such as mobile phones, PDA’s, computers and payments terminals via a fast and easy wireless connection. It operates in the 13.56 MHz frequency range, over a distance of typically a few centimeters and combines the functions of a contactless reader, a contactless card and peer-to-peer functionality on a single chip."
A key differentiator of this approach is what Cambridge calls "Patient-in-the-Loop" dosing. In other words, the insulin is not automatically released by the pump based on the glucose monitor reading but only when confirmed by the patient.
From my point of view, this is a welcome approach since diabetics are used to working in a highly intrusive environment. While ultimately the best solution will be a totally autonomous system, raising the confidence of the patient that the monitor and pump work reliably and consistently is a good transition strategy.
Cambridge believes that NFC can be applied to many more medical conditions. According to Richard Traherne, "we see strong potential for the technology in a wide array of medical applications including pain relief, asthma and respiratory care, gastric electrical stimulation therapy, and treatments for congestive heart failure or urinary urge incontinence."