Those with type 1 diabetes got on the technology bandwagon first, taking advantage of such advances as continuous glucose monitoring (CGM), smart pens and other approaches. Now, more and more people with type 2 diabetes are finding that technology can help them manage their blood sugars and improve their health, regardless of which medications they take, according to health care providers who say they field frequent questions about technology from their type 2 patients.
OnTrackDiabetes asked two such experts to offer their suggestions for worthwhile tech advances—programs and devices that are on the market now, not hoped-for on the horizon--that have been shown to help those with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugars—and their lives.
Pairing glucose meters with phone apps and other services is a trend, and a helpful one, according to David T. Ahn, MD, associate clinical professor of medicine, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, an endocrinologist and diabetes technology expert, and Amy Hess Fischl, MS, RD, DN, BC-ADM, CDE, the transitional program coordinator at Kovler Diabetes Center, Chicago, and an editorial board member for OnTrackDiabetes.
Here, their picks. The list is by no means exhaustive, and will likely need an update soon as more technology unfolds. (Note: the term "bundle" refers the various components needed for diabetes self-management—testing, monitoring and compliance through coaching.)
The mySugr Bundle pairs its phone app, including mySugr Pro and mySugr Coach, with the Accu-Check meter. Bonus: unlimited test strips are included, and the number of strips used is automatically kept track of through the meter connection with mySugr. Coaches are certified diabetes educators (CDEs) who have diabetes and there is unlimited messaging.
Many smartphones are compatible, but before you order you can check to see if yours is on the list provided on the site.A monthly subscription is $39.99. "The mySugr Bundle is a direct-to-consumer offering,'' says Scott Johnson, a spokesperson. "There are no prescriptions required,'' he says. And insurance coverage is not available at this time, he says.
If cost is an issue? The app alone, mySugar, which is free, can help people, too, Hess-Fischl says.
Another bundle, similar, and worth checking out, Dr. Ahn says, is from One Drop. "They pair a wireless meter with a coaching service," he says. One option: Pay $10 for a trial, which includes access to unlimited strips, coaching, meter, the phone app and cloud-based analytics and reporting, says Rachel Sanchez-Madhur, a spokesperson for One Drop. After 30 days, on this unlimited strip plan you pay $44.95 a month, she says.
Strips ship on-demand, and you can request refills in the app. The Chrome Bluetooth meter accuracy has been confirmed, with 99% of measurements within 20% of lab results and 95% within 15%.
Hess-Fischl gives a nod to another partnership—one that involves Samsung and WellDoc. It allows Samsung Health users access to a new consumer version of WellDoc's digital platform known as the Diabetes Wellness Program (DWP).
"It's full service," she says. Instant feedback is provided. Such ongoing support for diabetes management is valuable, she says. "People can't do it alone."
U.S. residents with Samsung Health and a version 5.14 or greater, can enroll in this program. "It is a 12-week health and wellness program," says Kevin McRaith, WellDoc's CEO. "It's designed to help adults with type 2 diabetes achieve a healthy lifestyle. "It provides personalized information and the ability to monitor food intake, exercise, sleep, medication and blood glucose—helping them manage their condition."
At this time, the DWP is free within Samsung Health.
Another meter and app combo, with coaching, is Livongo. Both Dr. Ahn and Hess-Fischl give it a nod. It's tailored to fit the needs of each individual, says Jake Mazanke, a company spokesperson.
"We use real-time data, reinforcement learning, and personalized coaching to offer personalized insights to our members that accelerate behavior change," he says. The welcome kit includes a meter, charger, strips, and lancets. Readings are uploaded to individual accounts and a message is sent. Coaching by phone or text is offered, as well as support calls when blood sugar is out of range.
Most members are offered the program as a free benefit through their employer or health plan. (Among those companies offering it are Iron Mountain, Pepsico, Lowe's, Target and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.) It's also available to others for $64.99 a month.
Hess-Fischl is a consultant for Abbott Diabetes Care. Dr. Ahn has no relevant disclosures.