Alongside the coolest new iPhones, iPads and Macbooks, you will now find a sleek glucose meter being sold at certain Apple Stores across the country. Yes, a diabetes product right there in Apple’s brick-and-mortar store locations!
As of late June 2019, the slick chrome-styled One Drop glucose meter is now available for purchase both in Apple’s online marketplace and in actual Apple Stores, with a starter kit going for $69.95 that includes one free year of coaching with a certified diabetes educator (CDE) within the One Drop mobile app service.
When it comes to “consumerizing” diabetes tools, this is an important moment, Friends.
Having a diabetes product in the Apple Store raises the profile of medtech products and of diabetes itself — as a “mainstream” concern that millions of people need products for. You could say this really puts diabetes on the consumer technology map!
While this is kind of revolutionary, it’s not a complete first: back in 2012, the Sanofi-branded iBGstar fingerstick meter that plugged into an iPhone port was offered briefly in Apple stores. But that meter didn’t last long.
Although it’s not the very latest in continuous glucose sensing, One Drop brings a whole new level of sophistication and utility — on top of all the activity with Apple Health platform integration.
One Drop and Apple Integration
To be sure, diabetes technology has come along way over the past seven years and Apple hasn’t been shy about its interest in not only healthcare products but diabetes in particular. The company has given diabetes play in TV commercials and product launch events, and a long list of diabetes products now integrate through Apple Health and on the Apple Watch indirectly or directly.
Now it’s great to see New York-based startup One Drop bringing diabetes back into Apple’s retail store locations, putting it on par with the popular everyday technology that people can’t seem to live without.
For those not familiar with One Drop, their meter and lancet sport a stylish chrome design with clean lines. In fact, their kit looks like it could have been design by Apple itself. There’s of course an iPhone mobile app, which integrates with Apple Health Kit and in September 2018 became the first fingerstick meter to integrate directly with the Apple Watch without a need to connect via a smartphone first.
“I believe that Apple’s perspective on consumerized, data-driven self-care is where the industry is going to be pulled to, versus the expensive, bureaucratic, not-data-driven current healthcare system,” said One Drop CEO Jeff Dachis, who lives with type 1 diabetes himself. “Our ability to align ourselves with that, and help drive that story, is what we see as the benefit of working with Apple.”
His company made news recently heading into the big American Diabetes Association conference in June, with its new AI-powered Predictive Insights that include an 8-hour “glucose forecast” within the iOS version of its One Drop Mobile platform for type 2s (whether they’re on oral meds and/or basal insulin). Along with that, One Drop’s mobile app offers what it calls a “Personal Health Assistant,” an easy-to-use digital tool for monitoring meds, food and exercise as well as glucose, blood pressure, weight and other health data.
Making the One Drop package available in Apple Stores is really a boon for the entire Diabetes Community, especially those with type 2 and pre-diabetes who might be in need of a path to more intense glucose management.
Dr. Aaron Neinstein, a well-known endocrinologist at UCSF, agrees. “I think it’s great to have more consumer-friendly medical devices in the Apple Store. One Drop has embraced the fact that they’re part of people’s lives, and that includes their smartphone, and I wish other more traditional device makers would follow suit,” he said.
We agree with that 100%! In fact, we’ve been screaming from the rooftops about the need for more consumer-friendly diabetes tools for over a decade, beginning with DiabetesMine founder Amy Tenderich’s Open Letter to Steve Jobs back in 2007.
Remembering the iBGstar Apple Plug-In Meter
Who remembers the iBGstar, developed by AgaMatrix a decade ago and launched by Sanofi way back in May 2012 after it had snagged FDA approval the year before? At the time, this tiny little meter that plugged right into an iPhone was hailed as a groundbreaking step forward in consumer-friendliness of diabetes gadgets.
It had the distinction of being the first-ever diabetes product sold in Apple stores — truly a moment in history, when our diabetes medtech first reached a point of worthiness to sell alongside mobile iPhones and tablets.
At the time, Apple offered iBGstars at all of their retail outlets and on the Apple website with the starter kits going for $99.95. This included an iBG meter, charger, lancing device, and vial of 50 test strips — but they didn’t sell any individual boxes of test strips, meaning you’d still have to go to a pharmacy or through your insurance at some point to get strips if you wanted to continue using the meter.
Unfortunately, many insurers didn’t cover the iBGstar and the high cost prevented many in the D-Community from accessing the product. Between that issue and Apple’s iPhone upgrade that brought new charging ports, the iBGstar meter was discontinued in relatively short order.
Still, that iPhone-connected device made its mark and paved the way for the future.
Apple Integration with Dexcom CGM, Other Diabetes Devices
Beyond fingerstick glucose meters, Apple Health has been integrating with other diabetes devices over the years, not to mention its new iPhone X worldwide launch event that featured a diabetes device in the commercial! Some big-ticket D-tech items in development are expected to roll out in the near future.
For example, Apple has been working with California CGM maker Dexcom for several years to integrate different generations of its devices, from its G5 iterations to the current G6 model.
Most recently, Dexcom has been in the news with talk about the long-awaited direct-to-Apple Watch capability — something that’s still TBD on availability, but has been in the works for years now. Currently, you can get a delayed display of CGM data results through your Apple Watch (without using any open-source #WeAreNotWaiting apps or tools), but you are not able to get a direct data feed to the Apple Watch without using the iPhone.
In an interview with CNBC in mid-June following the big ADA Scientific Sessions conference, Dexcom CEO Kevin Sayer’s comment on this direct-to-watch functionality was simply, “it’s coming.” We’ve reported on Dexcom’s planned pipeline updates, which include a new lower-cost G6 transmitter and other mobile app features before the eventual next-gen G7 rollout in the next year or so.
We can’t help wondering: Will we ever see a Dexcom, or other competing CGM, sold directly in Apple stores?
Probably not, since these devices require a doctor’s prescription and most still need to go through insurance plans for coverage to make them affordable. It’s interesting to think that fingerstick glucose meters have now crossed over into the realm of “consumer products,” while CGM is still considered a “medical need.”
Apple Health Beyond Diabetes
Beyond just diabetes, Apple has certainly turned its attention to a variety of healthcare issues and trends — including Electronic Health Records (EHRs). Most recently in late June, Apple announced via Twitter that it would be expanding its mobile health features by allowing US-based health systems or clinics with compatible EHRs to register for the Apple Health Records platform so their patients can access their data directly via iPhones.
This means that after providing secure credentials, patients can easily download their health records to their smartphone and also search for providers through their phones via the Apple Health Records feature.
In the public tweet announcing this, Apple’s Clinical and Health Informatics Lead Dr. Ricky Bloomfield directed people to Apple’s Health Records registration page.
Of course, this is all part of a bigger trend toward consumer-friendly medical and health devices, that extends beyond Apple to Google, Amazon, Samsung, Qualcomm and others.
We’re excited to see these developments, because they mean better, easier access to tools and tech that fit more into our daily lives. And along with it, the general public will hear and learn more about conditions like diabetes, building empathy and helping many manage their own health.
Those are huge positives, in our book. Congrats to One Drop for being at the forefront here.