Telcare glucose meter earns kudos for cellular connectivity

It looks like Telcare's choice to steer clear of the glucose-meter-to-smartphone connectivity was a solid one. The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg, a Type 2 diabetic and long-time reviewer of glucometer technologies, handed Telcare's new meter and associated iPhone app a largely positive review last week, encouraging his diabetic readers to give it a look.

Telcare plans to debut the new meter this week.

What really won Mossberg over was 1) the device immediately transmits the user's readings to a database that physicians can access, and 2) the device has embedded cellular connectivity that doesn't require a separate carrier or contract. His thought: Patients will be more likely to use the device regularly if clinicians are tracking their compliance in real time, and they don't have to pay a separate fee to transmit the data.

There are several glucose meters on the market--such as MyGlucoHealth, Sanofi, and AgaMatrix--that can transmit data wirelessly, but they require an intermediary to transmit the data, such as a smartphone or email program, he notes.

Telcare's meter has approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but enters the market from a slightly different angle than devices that require patient to collect or transmit the data. Telcare's unit is a straight machine-to-machine (M2M) system, which mHealth vendors have been pursuing, but few actually have brought to market.

Interestingly, the smartphone app associated with the meter brings additional functionality, according to company officials. The meter itself is pretty limited--it only transmits glucose readings. However, the iPhone app also tracks carb consumption, medication adherence and other contributing factors to a diabetic's overall health, company reps say. Users also can attach notes to particular readings to indicate what might have contributed to an out-of-range finding, Mossberg points out.

A few cons: The meter itself is expensive, at $150, according to Mossberg. What's more, it doesn't allow much interactivity. For example, physicians can send messages to patients about their readings, but patients can't respond via the meter--they instead have to access a smartphone or the Internet, according to bloggers at TMCnet.

To learn more:
- check out Mossberg's WSJ story
- read the TMCnet piece

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