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Dr. Bill's Commentaries

A Diabetes Gadget I Won't Use

Update April 25, 2016: The device discussed below has been improved since the date I originally wrote this essay (in October 2014). I spoke with a Dexcom rep today about the SHARE product. Although it's not featured on their website as a product, they still sell it. And it no longer needs a $299 cradle (which was part of my initial complaint). And limited Android interactivity is now available for the "follow me" app.

Sometimes I think of myself as becoming a diabetes gadget guru -- I've got an insulin pump, and a 

CGM (continuous glucose monitor), and of course more blood glucose meters than I really need. And my smartphone is forever getting news flashes about new diabetes and insulin newstories and press releases.

So I was feeling good when I started reading a new press release [dated October 20, 2014] from the manufacturer of my CGM (Dexcom): they announced FDA approval of "the First Remote Mobile Communications Device Used for Continuous Glucose Monitoring" -- a gadget they call SHARE™. Cool. Another gadget for my collection!

Until I read the fine print.

SHARE uses a secure wireless connection to transmit the glucose levels of a person with diabetes from their Dexcom CGM to the smartphones of up to five designated recipients, or “followers.” Cool. So my wife, looking at her smartphone, can read my glucose levels from anywhere, without nagging me to activate the CGM's display-button -- or at night, without her having to find my CGM on my bedside table and take a peek for herself. Lots easier for her, and for worried parents whose kids are on CGM and playing outside, or sleeping soundly. And lots of other scenarios: elderly parents across country, spouses on business trips... or even helicopter family members overseeing the diabetes care of hospitalized diabetes patients.

Wait a minute: [Following is no longer true as of April 2016: The CGM has to be in a cradle (cost $299)] and is unlikely to be reimbursed by insurance companies. And the system needs several smartphones: one to send data from the cradle to the cloud, while the followers all need smartphones to receive the data from the cloud.

And... the the crushing blow: the only smartphones that are supported are Apple products: iPhones and iPod Touches. I searched the press release for the word "Android" -- it simply isn't there. I went to the Dexcom website, which prominently features the Share gadget on their homepage: clicking through to the Share page: "The Dexcom SHARE System is currently not available for the Android platform."

Total bummer! I could go off on a tangent about my distaste for Apple smartphones but that would take hours and be off-topic from diabetes. Suffice it to say that Apple's share of the smartphone market has been well under 50%, while the major competitor for smartphones, the Android-based phones made by several manufacturers, has over half of the US market. (Microsoft and BlackBerry trail well behind.)

So, Dexcom has built a device that won't work with my family's Android smartphones. And which Medicare insurance won't reimburse. Sorry, Dexcom, you struck out on this one.

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Dr. Bill Quick began writing at HealthCentral's diabetes website in November, 2006. These essays are reproduced at D-is-for-Diabetes with the permission of HealthCentral.

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This page was new at D-is-for-Diabetes April 25, 2016

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