Starting next month Medicare patients with diabetes who receive their diabetes testing supplies via mail order may or may not notice any changes, but after negotiating prices down, CMS is set to start paying the mail order diabetes supply companies about 20 cents per strip beginning July 1. Glooko CEO Rick Altinger told MobiHealthNews in an interview this week that the change is actually welcome news for his company and others in diabetes management whose business models don't depend predominantly on strip sales.
"This actually creates an opportunity for us because in the past a potential competitor would be a major meter company coming out with their own end-to-end diabetes management system," Altinger said. And for others in the connected diabetes space, "it's not enough to have your own Bluetooth-enabled meter" and proprietary test strips now that reimbursement dollars are falling, he said.
Altinger says that the rule has already led to layoffs and could mean billions of dollars in vanished revenues for meter companies -- also known as cost savings for the overall healthcare system.
"Even those efforts that would have been formidable competitors to us are now being shutdown," Altinger noted. "There's a lot more reception [at the big pharma companies] toward working with third parties like us."
Following its recent FDA 510(k) clearance, which MobiHealthNews first reported on last month, Glooko launched the next iteration of its diabetes management system, which includes a smart cable that links a variety of off-the-shelf blood glucose meters to an iPhone to extract readings to a companion smartphone app. Glooko 2.0 helps users learn more about their health condition by via analysis charts and accompanying web dashboard. If a user's physician has opted-in to Glooko's ProConnect program, they can send real-time, cloud-based sharing of their blood glucose data, too. Glooko now supports 19 popular glucose meters, which the company says are used by about 80 percent of people with diabetes, and it has plans to begin supporting insulin pumps soon, but would not share which companies it is working with yet.
Like many diabetes management apps, Glooko's enables patients to log food intake, medication adherence, and activity. The app also leverages a food database that has data on 200,000 foods to make it easier for users to track their carb intake. The application also shows glucose data in graphs based on time of day, day of week, and reading below, within or above targets, too.
With the new app Glooko sees its customer base evolving. As always it aims to serve people with diabetes and their care providers, but in conjunction with those care providers or separately, Glooko sees an opportunity to work with disease management entities who can act like coaches to Glooko users. The company won't comment on any particular deals yet, but it says one of its already announced provider customers, Scripps Health, is already using the Glooko platform to coach some of its patients.
Altinger said healthcare providers can remotely monitor their patients' data as it updates and tell at a glance which of their patients had an event in the past two days, since those are the ones most likely to end up in the emergency rooms. Providers can then intervene at that moment or soon after instead of a month later during the next office visit. The provider might ring the patient up, find out they were unaware that the food they ate the night before was more carb heavy than they thought, and get a suggestion to leverage Glooko's food database to get a better sense of carbs in particular food.
Another example Altinger floated was a physician might be able to review patients' metrics for average glucose readings and look for those whose average BG has gone up by more than 10 percent in the past week. Maybe there was no single alarming event, but the average is trending up and providers might be able to check in sooner if they can monitor patients via Glooko, he said.
Altinger said Glooko is still working on a meter that connects to its supported meters on one end and has a Bluetooth-enabled dongle on the other, which connects wirelessly to the user's smartphone. That step would enable Glooko users to review their readings without pulling out a medical device that is plugged into their phone.
"We also hope to have an Android [version of Glooko] out by the end of July or August," Altinger said.