A case study in open source innovation: developing the Tidepool Platform for interoperability in type 1 diabetes management

J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2016 Mar;23(2):324-32. doi: 10.1093/jamia/ocv104. Epub 2015 Sep 2.


Objective: Develop a device-agnostic cloud platform to host diabetes device data and catalyze an ecosystem of software innovation for type 1 diabetes (T1D) management.

Materials and methods: An interdisciplinary team decided to establish a nonprofit company, Tidepool, and build open-source software.

Results: Through a user-centered design process, the authors created a software platform, the Tidepool Platform, to upload and host T1D device data in an integrated, device-agnostic fashion, as well as an application ("app"), Blip, to visualize the data. Tidepool's software utilizes the principles of modular components, modern web design including REST APIs and JavaScript, cloud computing, agile development methodology, and robust privacy and security.

Discussion: By consolidating the currently scattered and siloed T1D device data ecosystem into one open platform, Tidepool can improve access to the data and enable new possibilities and efficiencies in T1D clinical care and research. The Tidepool Platform decouples diabetes apps from diabetes devices, allowing software developers to build innovative apps without requiring them to design a unique back-end (e.g., database and security) or unique ways of ingesting device data. It allows people with T1D to choose to use any preferred app regardless of which device(s) they use.

Conclusion: The authors believe that the Tidepool Platform can solve two current problems in the T1D device landscape: 1) limited access to T1D device data and 2) poor interoperability of data from different devices. If proven effective, Tidepool's open source, cloud model for health data interoperability is applicable to other healthcare use cases.

Keywords: blood glucose self-monitoring; computer-assisted; decision making; diabetes mellitus type 1; insulin infusion systems; mobile applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Ownership
  • Software*
  • Systems Integration