Smartphone monitoring system puts diabetics, parents at ease

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by Sarah Forgany / KENS 5

Bio | Email | Follow: @ForganySarah

kens5.com

Posted on February 9, 2012 at 11:00 PM

Updated Saturday, Feb 11 at 7:55 PM

SAN ANTONIO -- Diabetes impacts the lives of nearly 26 million Americans and is the fourth leading cause of death in Bexar County, according to the Texas Diabetes Institute.

That's 12 percent of the population. Even more of a concern is the process of managing the disease can sometimes be overwhelming. But these days, modern technology is making it much easier.

One of the newest devices is the Telcare blood glucose monitoring system, a one of a kind meter that uses wireless service to speak to the iPhone, iPad and doctors in just seconds. It also notifies family members through text messaging, which is something 28-year-old Megan Casey wishes she had while growing up.

"My parents were scared," Casey said.

Childhood wasn't always easy for Casey. She worried about everything she ate, everything she played and every day she went to school.

"I think any parent that has a child with type 1 (diabetes) worries when their child is at school," she said. "Activity can send your blood sugar down."

It was a life changing discovery. Casey was only 8 years old when she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

"I had to track everything on paper. I had a booklet and I wrote everything down -- how much carbohydrates I ate, how much insulin I gave and what my blood sugar was," she said. "When I went to the doctor, we had to copy it."

She kept a log and copied every detail by hand when she tested her blood five to eight times a day.

"It can be overwhelming," she said.

Fast forward 20 years later -- One prick is all it takes to manage her diabetes today. Technology handles the rest, from wireless-enabled insulin pumps that track glucose levels, diet and exercise to monitors that use Bluetooth technology to transmit data.

And now comes the first ever FDA approved wireless capable glucose meter made by Telcare.

"I'll get on my iPhone and I can go to my Telcare and I can look at it and it will tell me what my blood sugars have been and show them on a graph."

Since the device is new in the market, KENS 5 couldn't find a doctor that would tell us more about the product, so we asked Casey to test it out for one week.

"For the device to just send the blood sugars for you and take out that extra step, it's fantastic," Casey said.

The meter works a lot like other monitors. You prick your finger, put a drop of blood on the test strip and insert it into a slot. In just five seconds, a reading appears.

But unlike other devices, the Telcare meter sends the results immediately to a private online database where the patient can view the results on an iPhone App. Doctors and family members can also access the results.

"You can look at the graphs to see where you are over the past few days and it will graph that for you to tell you your targets," Casey said.

Whether she's on target or not, the charts and logs will let her know, highlighting trends and problem areas. But Casey is most impressed with the text messaging service. Family members can receive text messages immediately every time she tests her blood sugar levels.

Telcare CEO and co-founder Jonathan Javitt says they built the device with families in mind.

"We hope it's really going to make a difference in the lives of children with diabetes and the elderly with diabetes," Javitt said. "If you talk to any mother with diabetes, the scariest thing in her life is the day she sends her child with diabetes to school for the first time."

Glucose meters usually range from $25 to a little over a $100, depending on their capabilities.

The Telcare monitor costs $150 but is available for $100 with a one year contract that requires buying testing strips from the company. The wireless service is already included in the price.

As for Casey, what was once a complicated cycle of managing her diabetes is now a click away on her phone.

"I always want to control my diabetes; I don't want my diabetes to control me," she said. "I'll live a longer healthier life that way."

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