Heather Mortensen

Heather Mortensen
  • Graduate Student
  • Company: St. Thomas University

This is my 25th anniversary as a type 1 diabetic and I have witnessed a dramatic shift in the paradigm of diabetes. After 10 years as a volunteer EMT, I noticed a need for interdisciplinary discussion between healthcare professionals, patients, and technologists in order to achieve a higher standard or care. I am active in advocacy for individuals with chronic illness and host local art exhibits that explore perceptions of ‘Health & Illness.’ I am a proponent for relationships between members of different chronic illness communities. Recognizing our shared experience, and how our chronic illness communities are unique from one another, assists us in influencing and advocating for one another within a healthcare landscape that is becoming more technologically diverse and labor intensive to navigate.

IoT and personal medical devices give patients more control over their care, but also more responsibility. They are forced to navigate risks that might not be well defined when using a new technology for the first time. Treatments are more highly individualized as individuals take control of their care. The broadening of the healthcare landscape, with the advent of IoT and embedded systems, both allows AND requires patients to play a larger role in their own individualized care. An eruption in the variety of technologies available has created large differences in the experiences, perspectives, and tools available to even members of the same chronic illness community. Open source software communities represent significant drivers for the development of commercial systems. They are giving patients and caregivers increasing influence in how healthcare is conducted.