iPhone blood glucose monitor makes big news with FDA clearance, but where does it fit in?

Sanofi-Aventis and AgaMatrix announced that their iPhone blood glucose monitor, iBGStar, had received FDA 510(k) clearance, over a year after received clearance from European regulators.

The device enables users to check their blood glucose and have the results input into associated Diabetes Manager App.

iBGStar is nothing if not slick – it looks like a device that people would want, a real contrast to what many traditional glucometers look like. In addition to capturing that form factor that made the iPhone what it is, the associated app lets user track blood glucose readings, diet, insulin doses – all critical and often lacking data in taking care of patients with diabetes.

On closer look though, one interesting feature is apparent – the iBGStar isn’t really an iPhone glucometer, rather it is a glucometer that transmits to the iPhone via direct connection. According to the press release,

The compact iBGStar™ glucose meter, when plugged directly into the iPhone® or iPod® touch, quickly displays results immediately after testing on the full-color touch screen via the iBGStar™ Diabetes Manager App. iBGStar™ also can be used alone to measure blood glucose levels and results can be synchronized to an iPhone® or iPod® touch at a later time.

So what does this device have that makes it better than others?

I certainly can’t comment on the “Dynamic Electrochemistry technology” that the device uses. In terms of the patient and physician perspective, I see a few benefits.

  • Form factor: Its small, sleek, and just all around cool – every little thing that makes a patient more likely to use the device is a step in the right direction. This could be particularly important for younger type 1 diabetics.
  • Automating good records: I have trouble making a grocery list, I can’t imagine how to tough it is to record multiple glucometer readings, insulin doses, and dietary information. Perhaps the act of plugging the device into the iPhone will remind people to record some of that other information.
  • Just plug it in: No bluetooth syncs, no logging in to anything, no cables – all of which lower the barrier just a little bit more.

Where this device falls short is a lack of any more immediate feedback loops or support. There does not appear to be integration of nutritional information, advice on exercise, information of preventative care. It does color code readings but doesn’t appear to generate actions.

In that sense, I wonder how this ultimately stacks up against glucometers integrated with Macaw, disease management programs like Welldoc, or 2Net integrated MyGlucoHealth which can transmit data to the physician via their EHR.

Each of these platforms seems to automate or otherwise address different parts of the spectrum of diabetes management – collecting the data, transmitting it, interpreting it, and acting on it. If one thing is for sure, diabetes management is finally moving into the 21st century.

Author:

Satish Misra, MD

Satish is a Cardiology Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. He is a founding partner and Managing Editor at iMedicalApps. He believes that mobile technology offers an opportunity to change the way health care is delivered and that iMedicalApps is a platform through which clinicians can be empowered to lead the charge.

One Response to iPhone blood glucose monitor makes big news with FDA clearance, but where does it fit in?

  1. Robert Fauchon February 10, 2013 at 12:41 am #

    The big holdup is the Finger strip manufacturers. We need an alternative interface than pricking a finger for blood collection. Collection strips are BIG business.

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