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Diabetes Partner

By Review by Gretchen Becker

Special Notice

I have reviewed a lot of diabetes management programs with an emphasis on my own personal needs. I am a type 2, managing with diet and exercise, and I often test new foods by doing postprandial curves and measuring the area under the curve. Thus I was looking primarily for a program that would (1) download my Profile and OneTouch II meters, (2) allow me to sort the downloaded results according to the 15 Profile Event Codes, (3) graph curves selected by Event Codes as well as by date, and (4) print the graphs. A convenient data dump for printout as a permanent record and a nutritional program were also of interest to me.

As a non--insulin user, I was not able to review the various programs' capabilities for handing insulin or pumps. Furthermore, I often rejected a program because the logbook won't handle more than 4 or 6 entries a day, because I need that feature. The programs I rejected I tended not to spend as much time with.

But insulin users, or people who want to measure their blood glucose at four predetermined times a day and then manipulate that data in various ways might find that a program that I hated is just what they want.

Or a person using a meter that doesn't download to a particular program might find that a program I loved doesn't work for them.

Keep this in mind as you read these reviews. They are very biased toward my own needs. As always, YMMV (your mileage may vary).

This program has a nice "feel" to it, and I didn't feel I needed to read the instructions. But it seemed to have too many features I didn't want and not the features I did want, like graphs you could print nicely.

This has a nice feature whereby you can add meds or carbs to the line graph, as you can in Mentor. Some other programs require a separate graph. The graphs are nice looking and easy to read. Unfortunately, however, the printouts are useless, at least with my black and white printer, because the goal ranges print black and obscure all the points.

The line graph shows only the days on which you had entries. This means if there are long gaps in measuring, as might be true of type 2, you can get more material on one page, and it means that when you take 8 or 9 measurements on one day, the day expands so that you see the details nicely. But it also means that the graph is not proportional. The Ideal Program would let you switch back and forth. The graph has a nice look on-screen. Unfortunately, it's unusable when printed out.

The program includes an e-mail program. I think the idea is that you can use it to send your information to your doctors. But I think most people who have modems already have e-mail programs, so it's not needed. It mentions something about "if you have CliniPro installed" but it doesn't say what CliniPro is. The price information mentioned "as a stand-alone program." I'm not sure what the non-stand-alone program is.

The program isn't in a window so you can't easily get to the desktop from the main window, although you can from the subsidiary windows.

Food abreviations not clear. What is "BEEF, ARM, SE, L&F, Q"? There are no instructions for finding a key.

Under Glucophage, the docs have "10 units." This is obviously not right, as Glucophage is prescribed by the milligram.

The manual is not comprehensive (it basically consists of several "tours" that guide you through the basics instead of serving as a reference) and I had many unanswered questions that weren't clarified by the online help, really basic questions like How do you set up a new user file so my file isn't merged with "Typical Person"? How do you change your care plan? I entered a lot of data about what I ate. Where did that go? I don't see the foods listed anywhere.

How do you modify the goal ranges and the daily calories? These are basic issues and I'd rather have a program that made them clear than one that included an e-mail program, which most people probably already have.

It kept giving a General Protection Fault with FirstAid and then locking up, but when I disabled FirstAid, it seemd to run OK. So this may be a FirstAid problem, not a Partner problem.

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