As an iPhone-loving diabetes doctor covering digital health for the past five years, I’ve played around with most every advanced, smartphone compatible glucose meter on the market. (Read my reviews: Telcare, OneTouch Verio Sync, iHealth Align, and iBG Star). I’ve been to countless digital health conferences, where executives proudly show off the latest diabetes tools at digital health conferences. My head spins, thinking about the exciting future of diabetes care.
But I’m jolted back to reality when my patients bring in the same clunky, old glucose meters that haven’t changed dramatically over the past 10 years.
Problem #1: Archaic Glucose Meters Aren’t Going Away Soon
In my clinics, I’ve never had a single person bring in an advanced glucose meter that syncs with the cloud or with a smartphone. Not a single one. (Note: I live in San Diego, a city well-known for its biomedical establishments like Qualcomm, Dexcom, Tandem Diabetes, etc).
I do believe wireless and advanced glucose meters are the future, but insurance companies won’t pay for them until we demand them. And we won’t demand them until we’re fed up our current glucose meters.
Consider the fact that most meters can only display a single reading at a time. No graphs. No statistics. And this is 2015.
Problem #2: Meters Don’t Share Data Easily
Not only are glucose meters stuck in the past, but downloading glucose readings at the doctor’s office can be a nightmare. Each meter requires their own software and cable, so many times I’m left flipping through the meter, writing down each sugar one by one. And I’m fortunate to have more time to do this, because my visits are usually set aside to solely focus on diabetes! Imagine how much worse it is for primary care doctors who have to manage every medical condition in a 15 minute timeslot.
Problem #3: People Often Forget to Bring Their Meters
Too frequently, my visits with patients end like this: “I can’t make any changes to your medications because I don’t know what is happening with your sugars on a day to day basis.” I feel horrible, but overdosing or underdosing diabetes medications can lead to scary complications. Without numbers, the visit becomes a wasted opportunity, both for my patients and for myself.
What do people never forget to carry around? Their smartphones. Which brings us to point #4.
Problem #4: Diabetes Logbook Apps Are Lacking
A common solution for many of the above problems are paper or digital logbooks, where you manually record blood sugars on a paper booklet or excel spreadsheet. Some of my most tightly-controlled patients benefit from such tools.
Just the simple act of visualizing your numbers in table form helps identify trends and patterns. Digital logbooks can automatically calculate averages and other statistics. Furthermore, logbooks are a simple, yet powerful way to quickly share your sugars with somebody else.
But… most people don’t use logbook apps for smartphones. Not for long anyway. It’s tedious to have to open the app, navigate menus, and type in your number. Unless its done perfectly, it can get old really fast.
Solution: Sugar Streak!
So for the past 2 years, I’ve been thinking about how to solve these problems. How can I make a Diabetes logbook app that people will actually use for more than 5 days? The answer was surprisingly simple, as it often is.
In a later post: How to Make A Logbook App “Sticky”