Checking Out Telcare.
Over the weekend, I received a demonstration kit for the Telcare meter, marketed as the 'world's first cellular-enable blood glucose meter.' There's some information out there about Telcare already, including this review from the Wall Street Journal, and I'm happy to take a crack at this new device.
What they mean by "demonstration kit" is that the specific meter sent to me isn't prepared for blood sugar testing at this point. The unit I received was a pre-production unit, and I was warned not to make any treatment decisions using it. Actually, it came with two bottles of control solution, which is what I used to test the meter out. (Strange thing, putting drops of control solution on a strip and actually thinking, "Hey, I like that number!" when the result popped up. It's like I forgot that the meter wasn't reading my blood.)
At first glance, the Telcare meter looks like an iPhone. Because everything wants to be an iPhone, doesn't it? (Except my Blackberry, which wants to be a frisbee sometimes. Come on, RIM, keeping plugging!) It's roughly the size of my Blackberry, and while the screen isn't touchscreen, it sure looks like it could be in the future.
As I had mentioned, this particular meter wasn't quite ready for actual blood testing, so I whipped out the control solution and gave it a go. (And I liked the color screen. The whole interface was nice to look at, which is a welcomed change from the MS-DOS-esque screens of so many blood glucose meters.)
The result popped back after five seconds. (Note: With the sound "off," this whole experience was nice. With the sound turned up, this meter makes phone keypad noises, which drove me berserk after just a few tries. I would hate to hear that noise every time I tested.)
Once the result came up, there was an extensive selection menu to tag the blood sugar (and you use the scroll buttons on the side of the meter to access and select these options). As soon as I selected one of the designated options, the results were sent automatically to the MyTelcare database online (mine found an AT&T signal that it attached to, though I'm not exactly sure how. Purchasing a mobile plan isn't necessary with this device.)
The online tracking software is decent (I have had extensive experience on the Animas Diasend software, which I really like), and offers some options for customization. You can set your own thresholds for "high" and "low," and the visual graph helps reinforce the data trends. For me, anything that gives a cumulative view of my blood glucose trends is very helpful, because sifting through all the numbers can give me an anxiety attack. Also, having the data automatically sync online is fantastic, because it makes log booking an instant and easy accomplishment. That is a huge plus for a scatterbrained PWD like myself.
I also liked the messaging options on the meter. There are a series of messages you can chose to have popping up on your screen (and it's a great option to be able to avoid all of these messages, if you want), and these reminders can help adherence with both supply reorders and testing compliance. Again, having the choice to take it or leave it is a plus. In the coming days, I'll be able to truly test the battery life of this meter, and how the trends map out using the online software, in addition to checking out the iPad app.
Overall, this meter has a cool look. (Or at least cooler than most glucose meters, which tend to trend more towards lumpy LEGO than streamlined.) My main concern, with all glucose meters, is accuracy and precision. I really love that technology is moving along and becoming savvier, but I am very curious to see how this meter performs when it's testing actual blood. If this meter is accurate, and if the strips are covered by insurance companies (another huge need), then this little fella could be a contender.