Data-Induced Burnout

The topic of data was heavily featured in an upcoming episode of my podcast, Just Talking. We discussed the importance of data liberation, literacy, and eventual analysis of that data from both the patient and provider perspective. Things like Glooko are great because it eases the barrier to entry to that type of data aggregation and access. The idea is that if we have the tools to make meaningful changes to our diabetes management more readily available, then we are that much more likely to try and make those changes.

Of course you have to be in the right frame of mind to tackle a month’s worth of blood glucose data, but I think simply knowing that your data is waiting for you is an important first step.

But there’s got to be a downside to all of this stuff, right? What happens when we dig too deep into all of these numbers? What happens when the possibility of getting lost in the data becomes a reality?

I use an iBGStar for my day-to-day blood glucose testing. When I remember, I sync the data on the meter to the iBGStar app on my iPod Touch. But I rarely look at any of the standard deviations and statistical fun the app provides because I’m something of a coward. I value the immediate number that my meter provides, and I appreciate that I can look back at things, but I don’t want to. I don’t want to obsess over every single data point right now. I don’t want to distinguish anomalies from trends. I’m not in the right frame of mind for that stuff right now, but I think it’s good that I can recognize that.

Between the iBGStar, the Dexcom (even though their software isn’t compatible with my Mac), and anything else that I try to keep track of, the potential for data-induced burnout is at an all-time high. Remember that podcast I mentioned at the top? The idea of an insulin pen that records boluses and wirelessly transmits that data to some kind of receiver was brought up. While the idea of having a better understanding of how I’m using those 300 units is appealing on the surface, there would officially be no escape from the mountains of data that surrounds my life with diabetes. Quite frankly, I don’t know how you pumpers do it.

In the interest of trying to foster some sort of discussion, I have a question for you. For those of you that take the time to perform any kind of data analysis on your diabetes management, do you consciously dedicate a three-day window to it? Do focus on one data source? Do you focus on a time of day or time of the week? Do you not even bother with any of this stuff?

6 thoughts on “Data-Induced Burnout

  1. I could see how the constant onslaught of information could potentially be overwhelming for some. I thrive on it though 😄 I upload her pump & meter once every couple weeks & then I look at the insulin/glucose comparisons for each day. Most of the time if changes need to be made I can see a pattern right away. If I can’t isolate a pattern then I will upload again within a week. Usually by then a pattern has emerged & I can trouble spot what needs to be tweaked. But seeing as how she is only 10 and seems to have growth sports every other month this is the only way we can stay on top of it!!

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  2. My endo looks at two weeks at a time, as do I. Two weeks is an “honest” period — there’s no way to try to cheat the system and do better on those days, and the anomalies stick out from the norm quite clearly.

    That said, everything I look at is graphical: blood sugars, insulin taken, carbs, etc. I don’t focus on numbers directly, rather I look at the height of the graphs. It’s easier that way. And I can see the fluctuations visually — numbers like standard deviations are quite meaningless to me.

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  3. I try to track 3 days at a time if I’m having trouble with a specific time period. However, 3 days is a long time in diabetes time, and If my testing proves my theory correct, I will often stop the test early to see if my changes are correct. I need to be really frustrated with diabetes though before I attempt this.

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  4. I fall into that group that gets overwhelmed by D-Data, quite a bit. I use mostly my OneTouch UltraLink that auto links to my MM pump, and through Carelink that’s what I use to download my data. I’ve not been using my CGM for a handful of months, but used that software on its own. I upload my data and my endo can log in and see it, and then I just fax her my Dex data every so often. In the past, I’ve analyzed every piece of data through software and found myself just focusing way too much on it, and getting frustrated. But one thing that has ALWAYS helped me is to actually go old-school, and write down my results. That way, I’m keeping track of my numbers as we go and able to also look back over the past day or week to see where I’ve been and what needs to be done, without really being overwhelmed. There are times when I need to dig deeper, but on a regular basis the writing down results helps me stay willing to keep it up. I’m about to start with the G4 and also the t:slim, and so I have a feeling that waves of data coming at me are about to become the norm and I’ll have to work to not get too bogged down with everything.

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  5. I actually love data that I can use, but find that most of what I get from the omnipod, dexcom, and my daughter’s medtronic downloads isn’t all that useful. What works best for me is to try to spot general patterns — like a bunch of highs at a certain time of day — and the current tools don’t do that super well (at least for me). Our CDE seems to find the logbook printout from medtronic useful for that but honestly, it is just too many numbers laid out confusingly for me. I will use the one medtronic report that is something like “modal day periods” and try to see if the average or variability is way out of whack at one time of day. On my omnipod & dexcom, I use the 2 week period just to try to see an overview — Is there tons of space between the lows and highs and a lot of that? Too much variability. If it looks like maybe there are a lot more highs or lows than usual, then I will look at a smaller sample to get a sense of time of day. And, the dexcom reports do include “patterns” but that almost always reports no pattern for me. I thought I might try using the Verio IQ (for either me or my daughter) for a while since that has pattern recognition, but I haven’t wanted to deal with entering the numbers into the pumps and carrying another device in my case.
    AND the fact that none of this syncs with my macbook means that I have to pull out an older windows laptop that takes forever to boot up and really doesn’t motivate me to do it much more than about 3 times/year. Phooey.

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  6. Hi!! Love your blog!!

    I spend a small amount of time every Sunday downloading data to Carelink & then I briefly look at trends & patterns to see if anything jumps out at me. But some of it makes no sense at all & I’m a former ICU nurse who LOVES graphs & numbers. I wish it was more user friendly & explained what some of the info means. I haven’t a clue what the standard deviation means!!

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