Diabetech’s CEO, Kevin McMahon, tells me that his company is actively recruiting people with diabetes to participate in a large nationwide study using the GlucoMON and real-time alerts. The data from this study will help secure reimbursement for the system and demonstrate that real-time alerts are a safe and effective method of achieving tighter glycemic control, especially for those people who work closely with others as part of a team.
Patients can register their interest with Diabetech or call 877.My.Gluco. The company already has about 40 patients in the study.
“I would worry all day long what my daughter's numbers were when I sent her to school,” recalls Judy Richardson of Great Falls, Virginia. Her daughter, Natalie, is now 10 and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 8.
“Now I know all the time,” Judy says. “She just tests and a minute later I know what her number is. And if it is an issue I can call her teacher.”
It’s easy for Natalie because there is no number for her to dial. In fact, she doesn’t do anything differently. She just tests her blood glucose and puts her meter back in the cradle.
But it's an extremely special cradle called a GlucoMON. A company in Dallas, Texas, Diabetech, makes the device and manages the service.
“Think of us as a wireless phone company that just does diabetes,” says founder and CEO Kevin McMahon. The key, he says, is not that it is wireless, but that it is automatic. “It requires no training. There are no buttons to push or computers or Palm Pilots to attach.”
Kevin emphasizes the importance of transforming blood glucose data into useable information while also protecting the privacy of the patient. “We take great care to ensure that all the blood glucose results are protected and made available to the right people at the right time according to the instructions of the patient or their legal guardian.”
For the Richardsons, Natalie’s blood glucose levels go to Judy’s cell phone and to her email at home. Her husband, Barry, gets the alert at his office via email. They could have chosen to have Natalie’s numbers go to many people — by phone, email, or fax.
This invention comes from personal experience. When Kevin and Kristin McMahon discovered their 2 year old daughter, Darby, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, they were concerned whether she would be getting the right care at the right time. Fax machines and constant phone calls seemed to be the only way. Kevin gave up his career in telecommunications to create the new technology that would keep them in touch with whatever was going on with Darby no matter where she was.
The GlucoMON works with LifeScan’s One Touch Ultra meter, which is sold separately. Diabetech sells the GlucoMON on its website, www.diabetech.net. Kevin says the regular price for the device plus 12 months alert service will be $484.35, but they now have an introductory offer of $399.
“Most of the cost is in the subscription,” he says. “It is a lot like the phone company.” For renewals after the first year he is targeting a rate of $29.95 per month.
Natalie Richardson uses her GlucoMON about half of the eight times a day that she tests. “Otherwise I would be getting messages from her when I’m standing right next to her,” Judy says.
“I can go to the gym or shopping and not worry because I have my cell phone and know exactly how Natalie is doing. Or she can go to a friend’s house and I will know what her number is.”
Natalie likes the GlucoMON just as much as her mother. “It’s cool, especially because it didn’t make anything harder for me than diabetes already is,” she says. “My mom always knows my number so I don’t worry as much.”
What Are the Nearest Alternatives?
The nearest alternative to the GlucoMON device that I review here is the Accu-Chek Acculink Modem. This modem will download data from the Accu-Chek Active, Accu-Chek Advantage, Accu-Chek Compact, and Accu-Chek Complete meters.
But unlike the GlucoMON, it requires computers, an Accu-Chek program, and modems at both end. This device is intended to transfer data from an Accu-Chek blood glucose meter directly to your healthcare professional, who must program the modem. The device sells for about $99.
This article originally appeared in Diabetes Health, August 2004, page 58.
CEO Kevin McMahon tells me that his company is now
launching the GlucoMON wireless glucose meter in
Canada. Health Canada, their version of the FDA,
considers the GlucoMON a low-risk device when used by
patients and non-medical personnel for
self-management. The Company is taking orders now
for use in mid to large size cities in Canada only.
Diabetech has also just launched GlucoMESSENGER in the U.S. and Canada using Motorola’s Communicator wireless device and Diabetes Short Codes as a school-friendly alternative and/or enhancement to cell phone communication.
Diabetech’s GlucoDYANMIX Intensive Management Protocols manage the GlucoMON and Communicator devices as a real-time clinical intervention system. The system is currently being used in several approved hospital studies throughout the U.S. for high-risk patient management including newly diagnosed, pump starts and gestational diabetes management. Data from these studies is being utilized to understand the risks and appropriate clinical use of the technology as part of Diabetech’s FDA 510(k) submission.
Originally, the FDA saw this as a low-risk “communication pipe” in their terms. However, with a new office of IVD and new people, they have stated that all electrical connections to glucose meters and other medical devices are required to obtain 510(k) marketing clearance. Diabetech plans to have the GlucoMON available in the U.S. as soon as possible.
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