Walt Mossberg, technology columnist for the Wall Street Journal, broke the news this morning that Telcare's cellular-enabled blood glucose meter will become commercially available next week. (Assumedly timed to launch at CES, the big consumer tech event in Las Vegas.)
Mossberg, who has Type 2 diabetes, also gave the device an overall positive review with very few caveats.
Telcare BGM is a 3G-enabled blood glucose meter that wirelessly transmits glucose values using T-Mobile USA's wireless network to an online clinical server. Clinicians can then view the data if that server connects up to their electronic medical records system. The data is also pulled into a smartphone app that can be accessed by the user or by caregivers. Telcare provides the example of parents of diabetes children, or adult children of older patients.
Coincidentally, Mossberg told attendees at the TEDMED conference in November 2010 that his traditional glucometer was a “piece of crap” because — among other things — it didn't connect to smartphones, other mobile devices, or the Internet. Mossberg's TEDMED speech did not mention any of the connected glucose meters that were already in development or commercially available at that time. In reaction to Mossberg's TEDMED talk, MobiHealthNews pointed out Telcare's offering (which was still in development) and Entra Health Systems' MyGlucoHealth device as obvious oversights.
In his review, Mossberg includes Entra's Bluetooth-enabled device as a Telcare competitor, along with Agamatrix's iBGstar, which recently recieved FDA clearance .
Read on for a brief summary of Mossberg's praise and criticism of the device:
Mossberg said that the meter was easy to use and that it provides useful information. Mossberg believed that the device's readings were accurate, but stressed to readers that he was neither a doctor nor a diabetes expert. According to Mossberg's review, the smartphone and web app are well-developed and information-rich.
Its design, while an improvement over traditional glucometers, could be better: Mossberg compared the size of the device to a "thick, old cellphone." He also said that the BGM is expensive at $150, and its test strips are currently available only from Telcare. Mossberg does note that "the cost drops to $100 if you subscribe to a one-year supply of test strips. The strips cost $56 for a container of 50, or $36 with the subscription." He also acknowledges that "insurance may reduce these costs." Battery life and device portability, when compared to traditional glucose monitors, is lacking, he said. Mossberg also noted a few (mostly minor) bugs in the software, but Telcare said they would be fixed in time for next week's launch.
Overall, Mossberg said he recommends the Telcare BGM because of its automatic logging and real-time sharing of readings with caregivers:
"As a Type 2 diabetic myself, I found the Telcare meter a refreshing change, and a significant step toward bringing consumer medical devices closer to the world of modern technology."
For all the details, be sure to read the full Mossberg review here.