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Continuing care

Pilot to study use of GPS in diabetes care

WATERLOO, Ont. – Wilfrid Laurier University and the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute in December began to evaluate the ability of a GPS-supported monitoring and alerting system to track the health conditions of diabetic patients.

This pilot system provides automated and accurate monitoring of a person’s daily activities, travel and exercise.

Led by Sean Doherty, associate professor of geography and environmental studies at Laurier, and Paul Oh, MD, from the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, the pilot project is supported by a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and The Health Technology Exchange (HTX), as well as the expertise of several key technology partners.

These technology partners are: RIM BlackBerry, Standard Register’s ExpeData, Life:WIRE, Medtronic and TELUS.

The system uses commonly available GPS-enabled handsets, secure wireless technologies and a specially developed software application that aggregates all the data into meaningful information for the physician. “We all know that exercise, heart rate and diet are important factors in successful management of a diabetic patient’s condition,” said Dr. Oh.

“We anticipate that this GPS-supported monitoring and alerting system will place greater control of health management in the hands of the patient,” he continued. “At a minimum, it will allow individuals to gain a greater appreciation of the effects their work, travel, recreation and eating habits have on their health.”

Approximately 50 patients are expected to participate in the 90-day trial, which will involve monitoring each patient’s daily activities over a three-day period.

“The heart of the system is the software application, which takes a trace of a patient’s GPS location co-ordinates at regular intervals as input, and then provides as output a detailed and highly accurate report of the patient’s activities and trips by start/end time, activity location, mode of travel, environment and other attributes,” said Doherty. “This essentially adds key ‘when’ and ‘what’ attributes to the existing ‘where’ capabilities of GPS technology, with minimal burden to the respondent.”

When combined with physiological monitoring – including blood glucose, heart rate and food intake – the system provides an opportunity to assess the impacts of spatial-temporal daily behaviours on health. Web-based retrospective analysis tools for patients and caregivers have also been developed, including automatically generated activity/exercise/food diaries and interactive maps.

The system combines multiple technologies to provide a comprehensive, yet easy-to-use, automated patient data collection solution which requires very little input from the patient. The following technological components are being used:

• Medtronic’s Continuous Glucose Monitoring System (CGMS), a sensor and monitor that logs blood glucose levels every five minutes for up to 72 hours.

• Bluetooth-enabled heart rate monitor and three-axis accelerometer communicates directly to a BlackBerry device.

• Standard Register’s ExpeData Digital Writing Solution captures handwritten dietary logs with a digital pen and transfers the information to a Bluetooth-enabled BlackBerry handset.

• Life:WIRE’s interactive application allows for remote notifications to gather and analyze data and present results via the mobile device or Web interface.

• BlackBerry handsets provide GPS location information and securely transmit all the data over the TELUS network.

The low participant burden with this system, combined with the accuracy of Web-based reporting and wide availability of GPS-enabled BlackBerry handsets, are expected to make this monitoring and alerting system widely accessible and acceptable for a variety of future healthcare applications.

About Standard Register
Standard Register has been helping clients improve their business processes for almost 100 years. Understanding where the information goes, who uses it and how it is being used are fundamentals of good document design, both for paper-based and electronic workflows, a Standard Register core competence. ExpeData Digital Solutions is a division of Standard Register focused on improving business processes using digital pen and paper technology. More information is available at and

About Medtronic
Medtronic, Inc. ( headquartered in Minneapolis, is the global leader in medical technology, alleviating pain, restoring health and extending life for millions of people around the world. The Diabetes business at Medtronic ( is a world leader in diabetes management. The company’s products include insulin pump therapy, continuous glucose monitoring systems, related disposable products and diabetes management software.

About BlackBerry/RIM
The BlackBerry and RIM families of related marks, images and symbols are the exclusive properties and trademarks of Research In Motion Limited. RIM assumes no liability and makes no representation, warranty or guarantee in relation to third party products or services.

About Life:WIRE
Life:WIRE (, based in Toronto, is focused on simple and cost-effective solutions for individuals to proactively manage their disease and health conditions through use of standard, off-the-shelf mobile devices as an interactive health management tool. Life:WIRE helps build positive health management habits with interactive reinforcement through a user’s mobile device by sending reminders, allowing users to log their specific data remotely and providing quick response/analysis of the data to the individual and caregiver group.

TELUS is a leading national telecommunications company in Canada, with $8.5 billion of annual revenue and 10.5 million customer connections, including 4.9 million wireless subscribers, 4.6 million wireline network access lines and 1.1 million Internet subscribers. TELUS provides a wide range of communications products and services including data, Internet protocol (IP), voice, entertainment and video. For more information about TELUS, please visit