Pilot to study use of GPS in diabetes
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
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
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
• 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
• 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
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
Medtronic, Inc. (www.medtronic.com)
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
(www.minimed.com) 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.
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.
Life:WIRE (www.lifewire.ca), 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
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 www.telus.com.