This past week I headed to Sanofi headquarters to get a hands on look at the new iBGStar blood glucose meter which launched in the US on May 1, 2012.
You know how I am always saying “I’m a Mac, diabetes is a PC.” Well now there is a blood glucose meter (BGM) that connects right to your iPhone.
(Since I have only had the meter for a few days and have only done a few tests, please consider this post informational and not a report on how the meter performs or an opinion on how well it works for our family.)
Anyone can download the free iBGStar™ Diabetes Manager app from the Apple app store. This app can actually be used without the meter because BGs can be entered manually. The meter can be used connected to your iPhone or separately as a stand alone.
I think the next step for this meter is to have syncing between devices through the cloud like the TelCare meter does. For now you’ll have to settle for e-mailing reports. For tweens/teens (or younger children if the school nurse would do it), you can e-mail parents/caregivers with a single blood sugar or a longer reports.
The meter uses it’s own brand of strips, which are at this point, not a preferred brand through most (all?) insurance companies nationally. However you can sign up for their Star Savings assistance program which helps offset the cost bringing the cost of strips in line with Tier 2 brands (so I’m told) with a patient out of pocket of $20 per refill. The card is good for 12 uses over 12 months. (Do they go to full price after that?)
The meter itself will be available at Walgreens and Walgreens.com and Diabetic Care Services for $74.99 which includes 10 test strips. It is also available from Apple.com and Apple stores for $99.99 including 50 test strips. Walgreens.com currently lists the test strips for $64.99 for 50.
Unlike other companies that freely give out meters at walks and product expos, Sanofi will not be giving these out for free. If you want to try it, and I know many people who do, you’ll have to pony up the money for it.
Of course it comes with an equivalent number of lancets. The lancing device is basic and I personally wouldn’t use it as I prefer a lancing device with a drum like the MultiClix because it’s much easier for my child to use and is better at school.
When I was trying out the meter at the headquarters, I used it separately from my iPhone and one of the Sanofi reps asked why. Well, because Q doesn’t have an iPhone and she has a first gen Touch, which isn’t compatible. Even if she had an iPhone or iPod Touch, would I want her taking it to school?
The other issue for us is that there is an integrated meter with our pump. We would have to see if having the ability to see the data outweighs having to carry a separate device and manually enter BGs to calculate insulin doses.
I need to get my hands on a couple more vials of test strips and have Q give it a good test drive. The true test for me is if she can easily use the meter on her own. With other brands of strips that fill on the end we tend to get a lot of frustrating fill errors (for some strips even if you have huge drop of blood, if the strip touches the finger it creates an error).
- It actually gets data off your meter. Data can be e-mailed.
- No separate computer software, download cables, etc.
- May be cool for tweens and teens who are connected to their iPhones all the time anyway.
- No coding.
- You can add notes, carbs, and insulin to each of your BGs.
- You can change a tag later if you need to. Some meters only give you a few seconds to tag it and it cannot be changed later.
- You cannot change a BG value on numbers obtained using the meter (it will have a locked symbol), but you can change values for BGs entered by hand. Teens can’t manipulate the numbers that they get using the meter.
- Many doctors still don’t allow patients to communicate through e-mail because e-mail is HIPA compliant.
- Test strips are not going to be covered at Tier 1, but the assistance program will help offset the costs…but what happens when a year is up?
- No light, but a Sanofi team member noted that the iPhone gives off quite a bit of light in the darkness.
What I’d Like to See:
- Ability to upload to a cloud and\or sync between devices.
- Notification of new BG checks performed sent to caregivers.
- When you use the meter in it’s small square case, the meter slides out of it’s slot when you pull the test strip out.
- It was a bit awkward at times for Q to test her blood sugar with the meter while in it’s case. I think part of this is because it draws up insulin from the end.
- Out of nine test strips, Q had two fill errors while using it. Out of the three tests I did on myself, I had one fill error. (A Sanofi team member gave me a few of his strips. I used three, Q used 9, and I saved the last one.)
- How long will the battery last and how often will it need to be charged?
- How many fill errors (you can also read that as wasted strips) would we get when using it for an extended period of time?
- When you first take it out of the box you need to use the power cord and plug it into an outlet to initialize it. That only takes a few seconds and it should already have enough charge to get you going.
It definitely has cool factor, particularly for those of us who are part of the iCult. I recommend heading to their website and watching the two tutorials (they have a very Apple feel to them) as well as downloading the free app and playing around with it. Like I said, you can use the app even if you don’t use the meter (shhh!). Something neat about the app is that you can set the background and it changes from day to night as you go through the day.
Even if the first generation of the iBGStar doesn’t do everything I want it to (it doesn’t sync across devices or to the cloud and it’s not compatible with our pump), I see this as a great step in the right direction for glucose meters and I’m excited that the FDA has given approval to a diabetes device that not only talks to the iPhone, but plugs right into it.
Disclosure: Sanofi paid for my travel, lodging, and meals and gave me an iBGStar blood glucose meter so that I could take a look at the new device. Please read my full disclosure statement.
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