Want to be able to transmit your blood glucose data from popular meter models to a smartphone, so you can easily share it with your doctor?
Well, liberating your diabetes data is getting easier all the time.
Now, the latest ways to do that come down to two words: Glooko and Ditto.
OK, here's the deal -- two California companies hold most of the cards these days on the existing options to connect glucose meters to either your iPhone or Android, and they're currently complimentary, one making up for compatibility the other doesn't offer.
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First, you probably know about Glooko out in Sunnyvale, CA, with their connection cable and app. We wrote about their "workaround solution" back in January, and they've made many advances since then in 2013 with their $40 cable product, that's compatible with 17 FDA-cleared meters and 19 meters worldwide. Yet this solution is still only available to those using iOS devices, pending an Android-version submitted for FDA approval this past summer.
Until recently, Glooko was the only BG device-connector of its kind available to the D-Community. Sure, there've been meters like TelCare that wirelessly transmit data and the iBGstar that connects a small meter to an iPhone, but there haven't been many options to capture the data from the various "mainstream" meters most people with diabetes (PWDs) use.
Not until this past week, when on Oct. 15, a new device called the Ditto hit the market.
Created by a Pleasanton, CA, company called Biomedtrics that's been around since May 2012, the Ditto Glucose Data System differs from Glooko in that it's not just a cable, but also includes a small unit that looks like a glucose meter in its own right (even a bit bigger than a modern meter, we'll add). You plug your glucometer into the cable that connects to this unit, which then uses a Bluetooth tech to transmit your data to a smartphone mobile app and/or secure website called mydittolife.com. This product is compatible with 9 different meter brands.
And here's the catch -- right now, it's the antithesis of Glooko in that it only works with Android phones and isn't compatible with iPhones. And it costs $129 on Amazon.com, which seems like a steep price for what it offers, especially in contrast to Glooko's $40 deal.
Unlike Glooko, that has FDA clearance as a Class II device, the classification for required for meters that can be sold over-the-counter, the Ditto device is only deemed a Class I device and therefore does not require 510(k) approval. That's because it's viewed by FDA as a "data device medical system" that doesn't directly impact patient therapy.
Both companies allow users to do a variety of things with their BG data: view the results in graph, list, or calendar formats with options to add notes, tag photos, or even share data with a doctor, nurse, diabetes educator, or family member.
Regarding their "opposite" offerings, we should note that will probably change quickly. The Ditto folks say an iOS-version of their product is in progress, and the small company of less than 10 people is in the process of verifying compatibility with various meters so the iOS app can become available within a few months. And meanwhile, Glooko officials say the recent partial government shutdown that ended on Oct. 16 didn't stop the FDA from working on their Android-version application, and that approval could come any day now. Glooko CEO Rick Altinger told us a month or so ago that they also plan to submit a Bluetooth-connected version, currently in prototype-mode, by the end of 2013.
We talked the other day with Biomedtrics CEO Bob Englert, who spent about two decades working with Abbott Diabetes and other diabetes diagnostic devices before venturing into the startup world with Ditto. You may remember Englert's name being connected to another diabetes management device called the Pelikan Sun, a high-end lancing device made by now-defunct Pelikan Technologies. And you may remember from past 'Mine coverage that the product and company bit the dust in 2010. Too bad, as that thing was truly "the Cadillac of lancing devices" -- with all the positives and negatives of something luxuriously comfortable but also bulky and expensive.
Well, Englert is now channeling his skills toward the sharing of diabetes data, and maybe at some point other health information too, like blood pressure and other cardiovascular risk factors. Click the image below to watch Englert's Ditto intro:
The Ditto device is the first product for Biomedtrics, he says. Aside from the clever "ditto" name that's meant to be a play-on words -- how we want our diabetes data replicated -- Englert told us that his many years in the industry gives him insight into what patients want.
"We want to present this data in a way that's more engaging and easier to manage, giving people that motivation to engage with their data more often and to make it more useful," he said.
What really makes the Ditto user experience different than Glooko's? As Englert describes it:
- Using the Bluetooth signal allows data to be sent directly to not just a phone or mobile device, but also to a laptop that is Bluetooth-equipped. That means you could send it right to a doctor or CDE's desk.
- Ditto only needs to be connected to your meter, rather than having to plug in the cable to both your meter and smartphone (although we weren't sure why this was any big advantage?)
"We are a data management company -- that may sound sterile," Englert said. "But data is very powerful, and if we can engage people in a way that doesn't make that data difficult to understand or scary to deal with, we think behavior can be modified to improve health. We're excited about where we are and what we can do to help."
While we appreciate these companies' passion about liberating our D-data, as of now, they are both just workarounds. We PWDs already have to deal with so many different device cables and cords -- and now another one is required just to actually make use of our data?
As noted, a number of new meter models are starting to offer wireless syncing, like the latest VerioSnyc meter that will zap data to an iPhone app. That one got FDA approval in early 2013 but for some reason isn't yet available to buy (?). More meters like this will eventually eliminate the need for these connection cables all together.
OK, until we get to the point when all mainstream meters have wireless capability, we really have no choice but to gratefully embrace these clever workaround solutions.