In the First Person: A Broadband Trip with Diabetes

During the last year, the Connect2HealthFCC Task Force has had the freedom of meeting and learning from a few remarkable people who are overcoming incredible health odds and embracing broadband health solutions along the way. We share one such experience from a young diabetes counsel below – in her own words and phrases. This account again demonstrates the particular transformative power of broadband within health and in meeting the needs of shoppers with health challenges. P. Michele Ellison, Chair

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I am Tesch West and I have diabetes. I am also a legal intern for the FCC’s Connect2Health Task Force, where we are charting the broadband long term of health and care and working to ensure that the FCC stays ahead of the health technology curve. I was influenced to work on this Task Force due to the impact these issues have on my life. I hope that by sharing my own story, it might inspire others with diabetes and other chronic diseases for more information about the positive impacts broadband-based health technologies can have on their health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 29 million Americans have diabetes, and only 5% are living with kind 1 diabetes. While 5% might seem insignificant in comparison to the other 95% coping with type 2 diabetes, I can assure you that the 1 . 25 million Americans with type 1 would certainly disagree. I should know – I am just one of them. I was diagnosed when I has been 10 years old. I haven’t let an autoimmune disorder hold me back from achieving my desires, such as going to law school.

Broadband health technology has been a big section of my success. I have a wireless implantable sensor that tests my blood sugar levels and notifies me when my medication should be delivered. I literally sleep easier knowing it will wake up me if there is a problem. Also, my glucometer and insulin pump use radio frequencies to “talk” to each other and I can download all of this information and send it to my doctors. Quite the change from 14 years ago while i was first diagnosed – the hospital personnel drew my blood for a basic glucose test with a plastic pipe and a glucometer the size of a loaf of bread.

I am just also encouraged by other innovative technologies potentially on the horizon for people coping with diabetes, such as a contact lens glucometer, which usually uses computer chips to detect glucose levels in tear drops. Furthermore, a device called a “bionic pancreas” can track blood sugar levels, send the data to a smartphone, and automatically dispense insulin and glucagon as needed.

Until recently, I only heard from my endocrinologist about three times per year, which meant that staying inspired and vigilant in my health care was obviously a burden I carried alone. Nowadays, I have a team of people helping me no matter where I am. With electronic health records and a patient portal on my smartphone, I can communicate with my doctor and other caregivers to keep me healthy. Instead of waiting for an appointment, I could get the advice and support I need when I need it to keep fighting this disease.

With the help of broadband-enabled technologies, such as telehealth and implantable sensors, my diabetes is under control and manageable. It will not define me. It is only a section of my life. Working at the Connect2HealthFCC Job Force, I have come to realize that by charting the future of broadband-enabled health care, we have been charting the future of people like me.

[Tesch West is a second year law student at George Washington University Law School. She is currently working as a legal intern on the Connect2HealthFCC Task Force and has served as a national youth advocate on various issues concerning diabetes and diabetes research. ]

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