Earlier this month, Tidepool, a nonprofit software development organization and JDRF partner, announced a significant update to its diabetes data management platform. Tidepool now offers people wearing the Medtronic Minimed 670G hybrid closed loop systems, as well as 630G and 640G systems, free software to upload, visualize and anonymously donate their diabetes data to researchers, device makers and other innovators. Support for these newer Medtronic pumps adds to Tidepool’s existing support for insulin pump and CGM systems including Tandem, Omnipod, Animas, Dexcom, Libre, and the prior generation Medtronic Paradigm pumps. We chatted with Brandon Arbiter, Vice President of Product and Business Development at Tidepool and member of the JDRF International Board of Directors, to learn more about the update and his connection to T1D.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. When were you diagnosed with T1D?
I was diagnosed with T1D as an adult in 2011. WNYC actually made a comic strip about my diagnosis story.
I was misdiagnosed with T2D at first. After months on pills and no insulin, I finally got the right diagnosis. It’s important that people know that T1D is not just a disease that kids get; adults get it, too. My grandmother was diagnosed at 45.
If someone you love is experience unquenchable thirst and losing weight quickly, no matter how old they are, it’s critical that you send them to an ER!
The recent update, adding support for Medtronic Minimed 630G, 640G, and 670G, is a significant step for Tidepool’s data management platform. Explain what it is and why this is a big deal.
We believe that people with diabetes and their clinicians want choice in what software they use. We also believe that more choices will encourage companies in the diabetes industry, including Tidepool, to be more innovative with the software they make.
Earlier this month, Tidepool released support for the world’s first commercially available hybrid closed loop system, the Medtronic MiniMed 670G. Historically, people with diabetes could only see their 670G data in Medtronic’s proprietary CareLink system. That was then. Now, people on the 670G system, as well as its cousins the 630G and 640G, can choose to view their data using Tidepool. Anyone choosing to view their data in Tidepool can get started at tidepool.org/signup. Our support for the Medtronic 630G, 640G, and 670G devices comes on top of our support of a wide range of devices from Abbott, Ascentia/Bayer, Animas, Dexcom, Insulet/OmniPod, OneTouch, Tandem, Trividia and many more. So if you’re using one of these Medtronic devices with a non-Medtronic device supported by Tidepool, like a Libre or a Dexcom, you can see your data together for the first time in Tidepool.
Tidepool also enables people with diabetes to contribute their data to research. This OPT-IN program, called the Tidepool Big Data Donation Project, is fueling incredible work across the industry and at amazing JDRF-supported research centers like Stanford Children’s in Palo Alto, CA and Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland, OR. Tidepool will share 10% of any proceeds with your favorite nonprofit diabetes organizations, including JDRF. You can learn more here.
How did you get involved with JDRF?
I was 27 years old when I was diagnosed, and a friend introduced me to JDRF’s Young Leadership Committee (YLC). I was just a lurker in the New York City chapter. Then I moved out to San Francisco to help launch Tidepool and I took on a leadership role in SF’s YLC chapter. It’s been a wonderful way for me to connect with people affected by T1D and share our stories.
How did your personal experience living with T1D shape your interest in software development?
When I was diagnosed, there was no software on the planet that could show me my Medtronic Minimed pump data on the same screen as my Dexcom CGM data. What?! Seriously.
Back in 2013, my friend and I built an app that used my pump, meter, and CGM data, and integrated it with my restaurant check-ins from Foursquare. When I’d walk into a restaurant I’d been to before, I could see my boluses and CGM trends from before and after the meal on my iPhone. Seeing this data helped with better bolusing strategies.
Other people wanted to use my app, but getting my data out of the Medtronic, Bayer, and Dexcom devices and into the app was a bit of a hack. And I didn’t have time to do it for everyone, or the technical skill to scale what we’d built.
That led me to join Tidepool, an organization that could partner with the industry and do this the right way.
Tell us about Tidepool and its mission.
Tidepool’s mission is to empower people with diabetes by making their diabetes data more accessible, actionable, and meaningful. Our software supports all the major insulin pumps, CGMs, and a whole bunch of glucose and ketone meters. Thanks to JDRF, it’s free for people with diabetes and their clinicians. Our technology platform also supports the diabetes research community.
Can you explain how JDRF and Tidepool have partnered to further technology and help reduce the burden of managing T1D?
The original version of Tidepool was compatible with exports from Diasend, CareLink, and Dexcom Studio, but there was no way to upload a device directly to Tidepool. Our users didn’t love having to upload their devices other (sometimes multiple) systems in order to bring their data together in Tidepool. In 2014, JDRF gave Tidepool a grant to build the Tidepool Uploader. This is now the only software in the world (that I know of, at least) that can upload the Medtronic 600-series pump, Dexcom and Libre CGMs, and Tandem, Omnipod, and Animas pumps. For most people living with T1D, no matter what pump or CGM you use, you can see the data together in Tidepool, learn about your diabetes, and use your data make life with diabetes a bit easier.
JDRF also supported Tidepool’s initiative to make our software available to all people living with diabetes, and all clinics, for free, so people with diabetes and their clinicians can view their data in the same interface. Before Tidepool, not a lot of people were uploading their data at home. At one clinic we recently analyzed that uses Tidepool for their population of people with T1D, more than 70% of uploads happened at home, not in the clinic.
As someone who has T1D and is committed to advancing technology both professionally and as an advocate, what is your outlook on the future of data management?
I believe the current generation of CGM, which are accurate enough to dose insulin from, has brought us to the golden age of diabetes technology. After incredible support from JDRF, there is finally a hybrid closed loop system on the market, the 670G, with more systems coming soon.
The T1D community, emboldened by the #WeAreNotWaiting mantra, is even building their own incredible innovations, like Nightscout, Loop, and OpenAPS.
Regulators at the FDA are also innovating! JDRF has been a powerful voice advocating for greater interoperability across diabetes devices, and the FDA’s recent approval of the Dexcom G6 as an iCGM (which stands for “interoperable CGM”) is the first major step toward realizing this future: an interoperable ecosystem where people with diabetes can mix and match their pumps, CGMs, and connected apps. I truly believe we’re at the beginning of much better lives for people with diabetes.
And finally what do you want the world to know about T1D?
People with T1D are some of the most activated, engaged, and resilient people on the planet. This is a community I’m very proud to be a part of.