I look forward to a clever wristwatch that can tell me how my blood sugars are doing. I’m not diabetic, but all my reading leads me to conclude that spikes in my insulin over time are not good for me.
I have set about reducing those spikes in frequency and size. Not being diabetic will give me more wiggle room than those who have diabetes during my learning curve.
But, my concern increased about the accuracy of the wrist reading recently.
Here is the basis for my concern. Hospital medical devices, oximeters, measure blood sugar levels. But for many years, they were tested on white-skinned people. How the light travels through various coloured skins makes a huge difference in the accuracy of the results.
Intuitively, that makes sense.
As recently as last December at the University of Michigan, findings were “When a pulse oximeter says 91 percent (oxygen saturation), more than 50 percent of Black patients actually had a value less than 88 percent.”
The not-so-funny news is that accurate oximeters, calibrated to an individual, were commonplace in the 1970s – that’s 50 years ago.
I digress momentarily as I see a rabbit hole drawing me ever deeper. How did they calibrate?
A tiny droplet of blood was squeezed from the top of the ear to scan the blood using spectrophotometry. This could tell how much light was being absorbed by an individual’s skin and tissue. Then, the device could be calibrated and optimized for the individual’s device.
Disclaimer: I don’t know how individualized current hospital-level medical care oximeters are done. To move this disclaimer to my wrist device, I don’t know if its upcoming accuracy will be accurate – and what impact skin colour and tissue difference will have on the results’ accuracy.
Considering the unintended biases, I’ll be much more cautious to rely on my wrist device for an accurate reading. I’ll need to research this issue further.
Please give this a bit of a think. What is an unintended bias you are aware of in your life? A personal example is that of my height. I was 5 foot 6 inches, but I’m losing ground, an inch so far! Here is an example of the bias. Political leaders are more likely to be above-average height. We seem to infer they are more intelligent, understanding, compassionate, financially capable, etc.
Now, where are my shoes with the lifts? Just kidding. I don’t lose sleep over this. It is what it is. But I keep it in mind when I vote.
I’m curious about your thoughts. Please share your bit of a think in the comment section below. It will come to me for approval before posting.
If you enjoyed The Blog, please share it with others. Thanks.
And my thanks to St. Albert Seniors Association: 780-459-0433 for making this Blog possible.