Living With

GlucoMON Wireless Blood Sugar Monitoring from Your Phone

David Mendosa Health Guide March 06, 2008
  • All of us can use a little help in managing the complexities of our diabetes. The very young and the very old sometimes need a lot.

    Do you need to make sure that your child or parent has his or her blood glucose under control? Short of hovering over them all the time, you can ask them to send their test results to you or their doctor.

    Unless you have a GlucoMON, that wouldn't be easy. But with the GlucoMON it is unbelievably simple.

    I know how simple it is, because I finally got my hands on one after writing about it for years. I first wrote about prototypes of this device in an August 2004 article for Diabetes Health magazine. You can find this article now on my website.

    The GlucoMON has just become commercially available. In the meantime the company, Dallas-based Diabetech, focused its efforts on perfecting its behind-the-scenes software inside of carefully controlled clinical trials while also making sure they took the steps to comply with various Food and Drug Administration regulations. Their commercialization efforts also took time, as they recently upgraded their technology to run on the GSM/GPRS wireless networks, which run most of the world's cell phones. This new device and their commercial offering are classified in the same category as Microsoft's Health Vault platform and a forthcoming offer from Google.

    The amazing thing to me is the fact that the software is indeed behind the scenes. I hate testing software, mostly because it takes so much time to install and then to learn. And then there are always bugs. And then you have to keep it updated.

    But the GlucoMON software isn't even on your computer. It works in a similar way to Google's "cloud computing" applications like Gmail and Google Docs that I completely rely on nowadays.

    GlucoMON even does Google one better. To use it you don't need an Internet connection. Or even a computer. Or a phone line. And soon you won't even need electricity for it.

    Currently, the device relies on electricity
    from a standard electrical outlet for its power. But Diabetech is a finalizing an optional mobility kit that includes a car charger and a battery pack.

    The GlucoMON is an automated, long-range wireless blood glucose data monitoring and transmittal system. “Think of us as a wireless phone company that just does diabetes,” Diabetech founder and CEO Kevin McMahon told me years ago. The key, he said, is not just that it is wireless, but especially that it is automatic. “It requires no training. There are no buttons to push or computers or Palm Pilots to attach.”

    While the name GlucoMON obviously stands for glucose monitoring, it actually isn't one. Currently it works with LifeScan's OneTouch Ultra. Kevin tells me that his company is working out licensing deals with the other major meter manufacturers.

    "The data are transferred over our network and are stored in the secure patient record in our GlucoDYNAMIX server software," Kevin says. "The data include the patient profile, patient-specific rules, alerts, reminders, reports, and education."

  • Since the GlucoMON is hardware, I dreaded the setup even more than if it were software. In the event I couldn't have been more surprised.

    I plugged it in to an electrical
    outlet, set up the little antenna on my desk, checked my blood glucose with the Ultra, and then plugged the Ultra into the GlucoMON. It must have taken at least 60 seconds.


    By that time the service had sent me an email confirming the result. Normally, of course, that message would have gone to the parent of the young child or the child of the aged parent.

     

    The GlucoMON has to be especially attractive to parents who have children with diabetes in school. Typically, a family will find a place at school that is convenient and which usually coincides with where the child checks his or her blood glucose before lunch, which generally is the most critical time during the school day because of insulin dosing then. Or the child may carry it in his or her backpack and just plug it in when need. Then, he or she might bring it home on weekends to support sleepovers or trips to Grandma's. It weighs less than 7 ounces.

     

    The GlucoMON can support shared users too, Kevin tells me. "I don't know any other device that can support this model."

     

    The company offers discounts for second users of a shared GlucoMON in the same family. Another option is its school plan where three or more family can use a shared GlucoMON.


    For my purposes, even more impressive is the automatic log sheet that the system generates and sends out daily. I have seen and used lots of different log sheets and in fact link some of them on my website. But none of them hold a candle to the GlucoMON's report, which is not only automatic but also logs blood glucose results in hourly time-slots, highlights highs and lows, and makes trend analysis simple.

    Kevin tells me that his company offers the service on an annual subscription basis for $29.95 per month, which includes the cost of the air time to operate it. There's no hardware to buy. You can order one from the company's website or call 1 (877) 694-5826. The GlucoMON doesn't require a prescription.

    Now, that's simple.