Dario is a glucose monitoring system from Israel-based company LabStyle Innovations. It is unique in that it plugs directly into your smartphone (either iPhone or Android) and connects with an app so you can view and work with your data.
The meter is a little black and white rectangle with orange highlights. It has a little pop-out panel on the side that opens to release a tiny detachable unit that you plug into a smartphone.
This “all-in-one” system has a built-in lancet finger poker at the bottom of the device and houses 25 blood test strips in a container located at its top. Still, it is quite compact, measuring 4 inches long and 1 inch wide.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved the Dario meter and iOS (iPhone) version of the app in 2018. Since then, the Dario has also been approved for Android devices.
Read on to learn more about Dario and its features.
- compact enough to fit in a pocket if needed
- can share blood glucose data with loved ones or healthcare team with the tap of a button
- offers an emergency “hypo alert” feature that can text message up to 4 contacts, and send them a location using GPS coordinates
- offers an in-app carb counter and exercise log
- no batteries/charging required
- the app is free
- requires a compatible smartphone to function
- nontraditional glucose meter/app may require a learning curve for some
- unable to change the glucose ranges in the app to your preferences
- can be expensive without insurance
The Dario is a glucose meter that helps people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes monitor their blood glucose levels.
It is made by Israel-based LabStyle Innovations, launched internationally in 2013, and was under FDA review until 2018.
Aside from the now-defunct iBGStar meter, it is the first meter of its kind that physically plugs into a smartphone in order to check blood sugars. Unlike other glucose monitoring systems, it does not have Bluetooth capability, but instead must be plugged into a phone to work. The fact that it uses your smartphone directly means its data storage is limited only by the space on your phone’s memory.
The app shows you averages for 7, 14, and 30 days, and a graph indicating whether your blood glucose has gone up or down since your last reading. It also provides a statistics dashboard that breaks down and categorizes your glucose data so you can easily spot trends. And you can share all the data and graphs with anyone you like by simply tapping the share icon and selecting a contact from your phone’s address book.
The app offers a food database of nearly 500,000 food items, that helps remove the guesswork from carb counting by doing the math for you (using the insulin-to-carb ratio that you input). For me, this has proved super useful in quickly gauging how many units of insulin I should give myself no matter what I am eating.
The app also includes a database with activities ranging from walking, biking, and golfing, to skiing and running to help you keep track of the glucose impacts of exercise. You can tag your moods, whether you are tired, stressed, or traveling, and other parameters for your records as well.
Perhaps most impactful is the emergency “hypo alert” feature. Once enabled, if you experience hypoglycemia (dangerous low blood sugar), Dario will send a text message to up to 4 people with your blood glucose level plus a link to where you are using your smartphone’s GPS coordinates.
Dario also offers an option to pay for access to a personalized diabetes program and a personal coach who will help you understand the app, review your health history, set goals, and receive check-ins via the app’s chat feature or by scheduling a phone call. (See details on plan options below.)
In order for a glucose meter to be approved for home use, the FDA requires that 95 percent of all measured blood glucose meter values must be within 15 percent of the true value, and 99 percent of meter values must be within 20 percent of the true value. Overall, the MyDario device reports about the same accuracy as other popular meters on the market.
The Dario officially clocks in at 95 percent accuracy within a ±15 percent range.
That would put it just below Bayer and Roche in terms of the most accurate meters on the market, as measured by the Diabetes Technology Society.
Overall, customer feedback is generally positive, receiving an average of 3.8 stars out of 5 across 200 user generated reviews on Google, and a 4.4 out of 5-star rating across 3,840 reviews on Amazon.
Many users say they switched due to the meter’s small and compact design. Others, however, noted that while the meter itself is small this is negated by having to use a smartphone.
One user named Hans raved about his experience with the Dario: “I would like to say thank you for putting it all together in such a small, self-contained, easy-to-use package together with an app that keeps track of everything and then is able to show you graphs that help you to visualize it all. The finishing touch is having my coach Keren to answer my questions and explain the different pathways that are available in your app. What you’ve done rates an ‘excellent’ in my book.”
Veteran technology reviewer Luke Edwards concluded that “the supporting app is excellent, easy to use and detailed enough to help you progress. The addition of features like note-taking when logging and auto messages sent with GPS location when hypo, are what help to set this ahead of the competition.”
While many users praised the accuracy, some have reported readings that seem to run high. One reviewer named Gilbert, for instance, said that he “noticed readings on this meter appear to be way off when compared to my (Ascensia) Contour Next meter.”
Other common complaints are related to the device’s cost, privacy concerns, and difficulties using the supplies that are provided with the meter, such as the lancets or test strips. Michael, who reviewed the device on Walmart’s website, stated, “Dario started calling my phone to sign up for their yearly subscription plan for test strips and lancets. Then they emailed me. I had to unsubscribe to notifications and block their calls. It is a good product, but I felt like my privacy was being invaded.”
Unlike some diabetes supplies, no prescription is required for a Dario glucose meter.
You can purchase the device directly from the manufacturer in a subscription model if interested, which includes unlimited test strips delivered to your door. The plan options are Basic ($25/month for basic supplies only), Pro ($33/month including access to a personal Dario coach), or Premium ($70/month including a personal Dario coach and professional diabetes educator.)
You can also purchase the meter and supplies from Amazon, Walmart, or BestBuy. The retail cost of the meter is $84.99 (not including taxes) and includes 10 lancets, 25 test strips, and 10 disposable covers to place around your phone while checking your blood sugar to avoid getting blood on your smartphone.
A box of 100 MyDario lancets costs $8.99, a box of 100 test strips costs $59.99, and a box of 100 disposable covers costs $14.99.
Dario is covered by some big insurers in the United States. You can check with your insurance directly, or fill out this form to have the company help you apply for reimbursement. Your out-of-pocket costs will vary depending on your individual insurance plan.
Overall, the Dario follows a similar procedure to check blood glucose as other glucose monitors, except for the use of a smartphone. To use the Dario glucose meter:
- If desired, insert the phone into a disposable cover included in the Dario Welcome Kit. Place the audio jack to fit the opening at the bottom of the disposable cover. (Using this cover is optional, you can easily check blood sugar without it.)
- Open the Dario application.
- Slide your thumb back on the ridged orange panel to release the Dario meter.
- Grasp the meter with two fingers and remove it from the housing.
- Plug the Dario meter into your phone’s lightning (audio) plug, with the Dario logo facing up.
- Once connected, the app will prompt you to insert a new test strip.
- Remove the white cover.
- Open the cartridge lid.
- Remove a test strip and close the cartridge lid to protect the remaining test strips and put the white cover back on.
- Insert a test strip into the test strip port. The app will let you know when a test strip has been successfully inserted.
- Load the lancing device by sliding down.
- Place the lancing device on to the side of your fingertip and press the lancet release button to prick your finger.
- Apply a drop of blood to the tip of the test strip.
- Wait 6 seconds, and then receive test results.
You can check out the user manual to learn more Dario glucose meter.
The functionality of the Dario device is similar to almost all other traditional glucose meters. What sets it apart, however, is its compact design including built-in test strips and lancets, and its use of a smartphone.
The app also offers a lot of practical and easy-to-use features, like the ability to keep notes on food and exercise alongside glucose logging, push-button data sharing, and that GPS location alert for hypos.
The closest competition in terms of tech features is probably the Ascensia Contour Next One meter, that has Bluetooth connectivity to a comprehensive smartphone app.
In terms of compact design, perhaps most similar is the One Drop Chrome glucose meter, which measures .75 inches x 1.25 inches x 0.5 inches and is praised for its sleek look.
But neither of those meters have the test strip container and lancet built in, which is what makes the Dario exceptionally easy to carry and discreet. Also, Dario’s test strips are sold in packages basically providing unlimited strips, helping with affordability and convenience.
Keep in mind that Dario is a traditional glucose monitoring system that requires fingerstick tests. Many people with diabetes today are opting instead for a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). These require you to wear a small sensor attached to your body 24/7 in order to constantly take blood glucose readings and transmit the information to a smart device or handheld receiver. If you don’t wish to wear a device attached to your skin, or maybe are concerned about being able to afford a CGM, then the Dario is an excellent choice of traditional meter.
Overall, the Dario glucose meter is a step up over most traditional glucose monitors. Its sleek all-in-one design makes it accessible and easy to carry with you, and it offers many convenient features such as carb tracking, hypoglycemia alerts, and easy sharing of glucose data.
The only real downside is that you are dependent on your smartphone to use the Dario meter. So, if your phone battery is dead or you’re apt to forget your phone at times, this could be a drawback. But these days, we’re rarely separated from our smartphones, of course.