LifeScan, a Johnson and Johnson company, just announced that its companion app, Reveal, for people with diabetes who use the OneTouch Verio Sync Meter, now enables data sharing with third party apps through Apple's HealthKit. The new functionality means Verio and Reveal users can now easily share their glucose numbers with any other health app that connects through Apple's HealthKit exchange. That includes Apple's Health dashboard app, which comes preloaded on all new iOS devices.
LifeScan was one of the first companies to demonstrate a converged medical device-smartphone offering on an Apple stage -- way back in 2009.
While HealthKit launched more than a year ago, no big name glucose meter company elected to connect its devices' companion apps to the data exchange -- until now. That might be because the initial HealthKit launch included a few glucose-related glitches that likely made medtech companies a bit nervous about using it.
During Apple's launch announcement one of its slides -- actually showing the patient app for Epic users, MyChart, showed the wrong measurement units for blood glucose monitoring: it listed them as mL/dL instead of mg/dL.
"It made all of us, internally here, say 'How sophisticated is this? How ready is this?" LifeScan's worldwide director of marketing, digital engagement and new product development David DeJonghe told MobiHealthNews in an interview. "We spent a good period of time checking how secure it was, and [that it had the] right units of measure and the right information from our devices to make sure we are getting protection of the data from a regulated glucose device. And we now feel comfortable and we are the first of the major manufacturers to do this."
The more serious of the two mistakes was discovered about a month after HealthKit launched, and its discovery led to Apple taking the glucose tracking field out of commission until it was sorted out: “If you measure your blood glucose using a device that displays mmol/L, those values can’t be manually entered or displayed in the Health app with that unit of measurement,” Apple wrote in its support forum in October 2014. “To prevent confusion in countries where mmol/L is commonly used, we’ll soon release a software update that will temporarily remove the ability to manually enter and view blood glucose values in the Health app while we work on an update to support both units of measurement.”
While the FDA granted 510(k) clearance to the OneTouch Verio Sync Meter and its companion iOS app Reveal, Lifescan told MobiHealthNews the app is actually not a 510(k) device but rather an app that has been spared by FDA enforcement discretion. That said, Lifescan is still following its same development protocols for regulated software and would be ready for a 510(k) process if it needed to be in the future. The Verio Sync meter sends blood sugar test results directly to the app, which works with and Apple mobile devices running iOS 7+ operating systems, including iPhones, iPod touch devices, and iPads.
The app can store up to 2,500 blood glucose results and events and up to one year of results and events. The app synchronizes its time with the meter; makes it easy to tag meals and add notes; alerts the user of one or more patterns found in results once downloaded; enables user to manually enter data like results, carbs, activity, or medication; and allows user to share blood glucose results via text message or email.
DeJonghe explained that what the HealthKit integration brings is increased personalization for Verio meter and Reveal app users since they can now port their glucose data to any of the health apps that connect to each other via HealthKit.
"People with diabetes each live different lives. No one is the same," DeJonghe said. "We know we have to offer a broad spectrum of solutions. Some people just want their number right away, while others want to use their data."
Without HealthKit, users would have had to wait for Lifescan to ink integration deals with partners on a case-by-case basis, DeJonghe said. LifeScan is also continuing to explore those kinds of deeper integrations.
DeJonghe also said that LifeScan has only begun to "open the door" on Apple's ResearchKit. It is something the company will be investigating in the future, he said.