How a tablet and a glucometer helped five mountain climbers on Everest

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A ten-day expedition. Five extreme sportspeople with diabetes. A major accomplishment at Everest Base Camp (5350m above sea level). Five dreams fulfilled. And it never would have happened without the support of health information and communications technologies.

Telefónica Digital has successfully developed a service that makes it possible to monitor insulin levels via an application for intelligent devices. With the support of a tablet and glucometer, the diabetes management application allows sportspeople to enter data into a clinical management platform. Then doctors can monitor the insulin levels of their patients remotely wherever they are.

“It’s simple software designed to be easy to understand for both older and younger diabetics, which are the most vulnerable groups, to give them more independence,” Josu Feijoo, one of the sportspeople on the expedition said in an exclusive conversation with E-Health Reporter Latin America. He added: “Years ago I wanted to share my climbing knowledge and so I convinced Telefónica to try its remote monitoring service for glucose in blood levels in one of the most remote and inhospitable places in the world: Everest Base Camp.”

Sending a clear message that nothing is impossible Feijoo has climbed thousands of meters and defied his illness in extreme conditions. In fact, in the Everest mission he became the first diabetic to reach the peak of the highest mountain in the world (8848 meters above sea-level), in the Himalayas. But last year he was not alone: he was accompanied by Elena Eggers, Beatriz Berche, Pablo Pérez Martínez and Roberto Martínez, who are all type 1 diabetics.

Together they set out on the expedition in August 2012, walking for seven days from Lukla to Base Camp before reaching the summit on September 10th. They were all constantly monitored by their personal doctors who instructed them in how they should regulate their insulin. As the five Spanish climbers explained, each tablet became a pocket doctor.

“The International Diabetes Federation has awarded me the blue cross, its highest global honor. The plan is to take young diabetics from Europe to Everest Base Camp this year, young diabetics from South America in 2014 and young diabetics from both continents in 2015; but I need sponsors to help me pay the costs,” said an excited Feijoo. He is an extreme sportsman who believes in the value of teamwork. And he also trusts in the ultimate goal of telemedicine: to maximize the potential of ICTs to improve the quality of life of chronic patients.

This story originally appeared at E-Health Reporter Latin America.

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