Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Diabetic Meter That Talks to iPhones and Doctors

Personal Technology: A Diabetic Meter That Talks to iPhones and Doctors - Walt Mossberg While consumer technology advances by leaps and bounds, the devices patients use to manage diseases often seem stuck in the past. A glaring example is the glucometer, the instrument diabetics use to measure the sugar in their blood—information they use to adjust their diet, exercise and medication. These meters, which analyze drops of blood drawn from fingertips, typically resemble crude PDAs from 10 or 15 years ago. They offer little feedback and can’t connect to the Internet to show results to caregivers. Most diabetics who use them log their readings on paper, which they hand doctors weeks or months later. But that is beginning to change. Next week, a small start-up will introduce a new diabetes meter it says is the first with wireless technology that instantly transmits a patient’s readings to a private online database, which can be accessed by the patient or—with permission—by a doctor, caregiver or family member. This system charts the results to highlight trends and spot problems, and can be accessed via a Web browser or an iPhone app. It automatically transmits relevant feedback—such as whether your readings seem high or low—and allows doctors to respond. I’ve been testing this new meter and service, which is called Telcare and comes from a Bethesda, Md., company of the same name. As a Type 2 diabetic myself, I found the Telcare meter a refreshing change, and a significant step toward bringing consumer medical devices closer to the world of modern technology. Despite some drawbacks, including a high price, I recommend the Telcare be considered by diabetics who want a better substitute for paper logs, or would benefit from real-time sharing of their readings. However, as with any medical decision, I urge people to consult their doctors before switching meters. Also, I evaluated this product as a consumer technology. I am not a physician or diabetes expert. While I found the Telcare meter convenient and accurate for me, your situation might differ. The Telcare device works much like a traditional meter. You insert a test strip into a slot on the meter, then prick your finger with a lancing device to get a drop of blood, touch the strip to the drop, and wait for the reading to appear. The difference is the meter immediately sends results to its online database, where you or your doctor can find it via the password-protected website or iPhone app. This transmission is achieved via a built-in cellular modem, which doesn’t involve any cellphone, carrier contract or fee. That cellular connection is used to send you messages about your readings, if necessary. In this first version, the patient can’t reply to doctors’ messages from the meter, but that’s planned for the future. Telcare typically uses T-Mobile’s network, but, if that’s not available, the meter will automatically shift to whatever compatible connection it finds. If no connection is available, it will save the results and you can transmit them manually when you’re back in range. - Posted from my iPad2

Location:Georgetown TX,United States

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