At this year’s mHealth Summit I had the opportunity to view a demonstration by Telcare, the maker of a cellular enabled glucometer and its accompanying platform for both patients and Physicians. Telcare’s glucometer looks like a cellphone. It has a colored screen, is cellular enabled and takes blood samples with its own strips as any conventional glucometer would.
No wires, or bluetooth connectivity is needed for the glucometer to work. All readings are automatically uploaded into the cloud via cellular network.
As demonstrated in the video below by Paula LeClair, Manager of Customer Engagement at Telcare, the Telcare glucometer works much like a conventional glucometer in that the patient applies a drop of their blood to a strip and inserts it into a glucometer.
The similarities stop there. After inserting the strip, the patient can use the Telcare glucometer to note when a reading was taken, such as after a meal, and also use the accompanying iPhone app to enter extra details on other factors such as carb intake.
Leclair points out that it is advantageous from a caregiver’s perspective that all blood glucose readings be automatically uploaded to the cloud. She explained that “they’re going to get a complete picture of all the readings. And you won’t have to wonder if some made it (the readings) and some didn’t and if some of the numbers were changed with an eraser (when using a logbook). All the data in there is complete and accurate.”
The Telcare Physician web portal allows for monitoring of a patient population through a single application view. Among the resources available to the medical team are the ability to quickly identify patients that have had dangerous readings and those failing to adhere to testing.
On an individual patient level, the medical team is able to view a detailed account of the readings and information recorded and trends of that patient’s blood glucose. Messages can directly be sent to the patient’s Telcare glucometer to provide advice.
The Telcare Patient web portal gives patients the ability to view their blood glucose readings taken over an extended period of time. It also provides statistics and graphs based on the readings to help the patient recognize trends and patterns. Reports to be presented to caregivers are easily accessed through the portal in order to be printed.
I had the opportunity to interview Jonathan Javitt, MD, MPH, CEO of Telcare. I asked if Telcare caused patients to change their behavior:
“This is the end of our first full year of commercial operation and we are seeing between a double to tripling of adherence to blood sugar testing and all you do is swap the telcare meter for the old fashioned meter. All of a sudden we’ve created a conduit between the doctor and the patient where with very small amounts of time investment the doctor is able to direct a messaging stream to the patient that contains the information the patient needs to know about what do next. That’s never happened before in medicine.”
Javitt also gave me some insight into what the future holds for Telcare:
“We want to focus on improving the value for the patient by connecting continuous glucose sensors, linking information about diet and exercise. It turns out that people with diabetes are more likely to end up in the hospital because of misjudging their physical activity and dropping their blood sugar than for any other reason. So we are starting to integrate the activity sensor with the glucose sensor. We’re adding in automated means of assessing the carbohydrate intake so that you can better correlate the amount of insulin you’re taking with the amount of carbohydrates you’re eating. By doing that we think we’ll be able to both save lives and save money.”
The Telcare blood glucose monitor kit is sold for $149.95 and 50 Telcare Test strips cost $55.95. The blood glucose monitor kit, its accompanying strips and cellular service may also be covered by insurance.