DIY medical makers during our morning coffee


We usually tell people that makers are often dissuaded from playing in the health arena because “you’ll shoot your eye out.” Nevertheless, they are out there, they are doing good and they are responding the extreme health care circumstances. I’m having coffee Saturday morning and someone yells, hey Jose check on the front page of the WSJ! It’s a story of a scattered group of patients, caregivers, a supermarket executive and hackers who did not take the health technologies given to them as the final blackbox solution.

The Nightscout is an extra wireless monitor for continous glucose monitors. That allows people to watch glucose levels of a patient over the Internet.

The home-built setup is part of the shift in the way Americans relate to the medical industry and their own health. Technologically savvy patients are starting to tinker under the hood of medical contraptions, seeking more influence over devices that act like blood sugar monitors, insulin pumps and defibrillators that recording control bodily functions. Patients have been tweaking hearing aid so that they play music, using 3-D printers to make room prosthetics and fiddling with the device used to measure acidity levels in the esophagus.

DIY in medical technology is what we are all about at Little Devices but we can’t be the only game in town which is why we are thrilled to see the story. For medical makers like John Costik, it’s more than a clever intellectual high, it’s a life changing experience of making in health for his little boy.

What I find encouraging is that we finally recognize a whole group of patients that go from empowered advocates of their care to empowered makers of their care. For everyone who’s watched Lorenzo’s Oil, this is no surprise, but the tools are getting faster and easier, and it’s an exciting place to be for those of us encouraging transparent design in healthcare.

For the full story check out the Saturday Wall Street Journal. It’s got everything: The passion patients tinkering away into the night, the contract engineer in India who solved a problem in 20 minutes, the FDA, and the voice of reason academic center (who has had research money from then medical device company).

I wish they would have asked the kids what they the ought of their hacker parents. But as some of the pictures show, they were just being kids. And that’s the way it should be.