I’ve been playing with a Telcare system for the past few days.
Telcare is the world’s first cellular-enabled blood glucose meter that will automatically upload readings to an online logging portal.
I was excited to try this system because it is such a giant step in the direction many of us have been waiting for.
A meter that automatically sends information to a web-based logging system.
I like automation. We have automation in many areas of our lives, and for a long time automation in the world of diabetes has been lagging behind. This system is a small step in the right direction. Bravo Telcare, bravo!
This is a pre-production version, so I wasn’t able to use it to make therapy related decisions. But I played with real blood, and did a bunch of play-tests with it.
Being pre-production also meant that some of the features of the suite weren’t quite ready for show. Specifically some of the two-way communication and custom messages.
Speaking of Messages
According to the website, your provider can set up message triggers. The example Telcare uses is that if there are three tests greater than 300 mg/dl in a row, the system will send a message to the meter that says “Hi. Dr. Goldman here. Please check for ketones immediately.”
I think that is pretty cool, and a definite plus for us out there living with diabetes, though it may be a challenge to get healthcare providers to spend the time necessary to really use this to its full potential.
I also think the healthcare professionals will need to be super careful how they word these messages. The last thing I need is another reason to feel bad about a reading that is not in target.
Hey Scott – Dr. Strange here. What the hell did you eat to get THAT reading?!
Of course I’m exaggerating here – but I don’t think it’s a stretch to imagine some less-than-supportive messages coming from some clinic offices. On the upside, if this is done right, I think it’s a huge opportunity to educate. Can you imagine a personalized message from your doc saying “Dude! Nice job!”? That would buoy my spirits a little bit. It’s also a great opportunity for caregivers and patients to connect more closely.
Sounds Fancy – Must Be Expensive
It almost seems too good to be true, but there are no monthly service fees, no fees to access the online portal or mobile app, and the meter itself is, in my opinion, very reasonably priced for all it offers. Strip cost? How does cheaper sound to you?
The initial starter kit, without contract, is about $150. A bottle of 50 test strips is listed at $55.95 (compare to a 50 count bottle of OneTouch Ultra strips, $58.99 at drugstore.com).
The contract starter kit, which appears to require a 1-year commitment to buy at least 4 vials of strips per quarter (at a lower, contract rate of $35.95 (!) for a 50-count bottle), is $99.95.
Pockets and Noises
I felt that the meter was a bit large – especially compared to some of the smaller meters on the market today. But given the capabilities, it’s very reasonable. A bit too big to realistically live in my pocket with all of my other stuff, but then again I’ve never carried a meter in my pocket (I’m still using the CoZmonitor system that clips onto my pump. I’m in for a serious lifestyle change when I switch pumps and have to start carrying a “meter kit” around).
The Telcare meter makes phone sounds. Where a different meter might offer a ‘beep’, the Telcare chooses a touch tone sound – like a phone – get it? I had to chuckle and grin when I first heard it, and I think it’s sort of cute. The volume can be adjusted or the sounds turned off if you don’t share my low entertainment value.
Oh! It should also be noted that there is an “airplane” mode that turns off the radio during flights. You can still test your blood sugar, but the readings will not be automatically uploaded. Once on the ground again, you’ll have to manually trigger an upload from the meter history (for now, each individual test has to be uploaded rather than being able to send them in a “batch” – much like a failed text message on an iPhone).
What Good is My Data
Automatically uploading stuff is very cool, but if this thing is going to fly for me, I have to like the system my data is uploaded to. Telcare has an online web system called “MyTelcare”, as well as a mobile app. Both are decent, if yet a little rough around the edges. Certainly better than my clipboard, even right out of the gate, and I have a feeling that both will evolve and add features over time.
This is cool, and a huge step in the right direction. Don’t sleep on how big of a step this is. The FDA has cleared a BG meter with cellular communication technology! This may open so many doors for us down the road – and that is what excites me.