Diabetes Testing

Commanding Telemedicine

For your health here is something that people who have both diabetes and another disease can push their insurance companies to provide. It’s a telemedicine device and data management system called the Commander that can save them money and might also save your life.

It comes from Cardiocom LLC in Chanhassen, Minnesota. The same company offers the GlucoCom Telemonitoring System, which last November I wrote about here.

That GluoCom system is similar but simpler than the Commander. The GlucoCom meter and the AutoLink telecommunications device is geared toward people who are just tracking their blood glucose levels and storing them in a secure online database. With that system you can give access to your doctor or others whom you want to see how you are doing.

In November, Cardiocom’s Tom Backman came to Boulder, Colorado, where I live, to show me the GlucoCom system. He is the company’s western region sales manager working out of Highlands Ranch, south of Denver. This morning he came here to show me the much more sophisticated Commander system, driving through blowing snow in one of the worst winters in Colorado’s history.

I hope it was worth it for Tom. It certainly was for me.

“The Commander saves health plans and physician groups huge amounts of money,” Tom says. It saves them time and can prevent the need for hospitalizations. One or two fewer hospitalizations will pay for the program, he says.

Individuals could buy and use it. But it would be expensive, Tom admits.

The system works with three different blood glucose meters, LifeScan’s OneTouch Ultra, Abbott’s TheraSense FreeStyle, or Cardiocom’s GlucoCom meters. Other peripherals that the Commander works with are a blood pressure monitor, a pulse oximeter, a medical scale, and a peak flow meter. All of these devices are preconfigured with software that make them work out of the box with no setup required. The Commander also has two expansion ports for other devices that particular conditions might need.

With the Commander you can send your data to a secure database, just like you can with the GlucoCom system. But the Commander also includes monitoring with a data management system that not only takes in and analyzes data that you send in but also asks questions about your condition and then if necessary automatically sends you and your doctor an alert by phone based on a professionally developed system.

For example, for people with diabetes the questions track diabetes symptoms like thirst, hunger, blurred vision, and wounds. Another set of questions track your medications. Diabetes management, specifically the range of daily blood glucose levels and maintenace, including eye exams, foot ulcers, numbness, and A1C checkups, are other sets of questions.

Tom told me the story of one woman who has diabetes and lives alone. She told them that she would contact them by 10 every morning. If she didn’t, they were to contact 911. One morning they didn’t hear from her and called an ambulance. The ambulance people found her in a diabetic coma and revived her.

More than 10,000 people are using the Commander system now, Tom says. Some of their key clients are Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina; Blue Cross of Idaho;
Sharp HealthCare in San Diego; Fresenius Medical Care, the world’s largest, integrated provider of dialysis products and services for patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD); and AvMed Health Plans in Florida. In addition several Medicare demonstration projects are ongoing.

Cardiocom designed the system for people with “multiple comorbidities” who need what he calls “multiple biometric measurements.” In other words, they need to keep track of a lot of things related to their health. The biggest percentage of them have congestive heart failure, but many of these people also have diabetes.

If in addition to diabetes you have other conditions like heart failure, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or coronary artery disease (CAD), the Commander system could be just what you need. For more information you can contact one of the regional sales managers like Tom Backman.

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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