The iBGStar Blood Glucose Monitoring System by AgaMatrix received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval on December 7, 2011. It became available for purchase on May 2, 2012.
Many people are using smartphones to make their everyday lives easier. Having to carry around a separate blood glucose meter about the size of an iPhone can be inconvenient for some. The iBGStar is a small meter that attaches directly to an iPhone or iPod touch via the 30-Pin connector port. The meter can also be used on it's own to get readings without being connected to the iPhone. Once you plug the meter into the iPhone, you can see all your data and easily add detailed information to help you understand your control, including carbs eaten, exercise, and insulin doses taken with the iBGstar Diabetes Manager App (which looks identical to the WaveSense Diabetes Manager App). The app will graph your readings and allow you to share your data with others via email.
Pairing a blood glucose meter with a smartphone opens up a world of possibilities. It allows a user to grab their data and interact with it in many more ways than a standard meter. Information can be added on the fly, leading to better care and understanding. Since smartphones are always "online", it also allows you to share your readings with members of your diabetes healthcare team at the push of a button. Parents can be notified of their child's glucose readings at school as soon as they are done.
Cost and Availability
The iBGStar Starter kit is listed at $71.99 at Diabetes Care Services, $74.99 at Walgreens, and $99.95 at the Apple Store. The kit includes the meter, a charger, a lancing device, and a vial of 10 test strips. The Apple Store has the kit listed in their online store, but a product page isn't accessible at the time of this writing. Other bloggers, specifically AllisonB at the Diabetes Mine, has said that the Apple Store kit will include 50 test strips since they won't be able to sell test strips separately. The test strips are listed at $63.95 and $64.95 at DCS and Walgreens, respectively.
There is also the Star Savings Program which allows you to start up a co-pay service for the test strips. On their site, it says "Register with the Star Savings co-pay program and you'll pay no more than $20 each time you buy BGStar Blood Glucose Test Strips." Offer is not valid for patients participating in Medicare, Medicaid, or any other federal- or state-funded benefit programs or in Massachusetts.
The standard meter questions about speed, accuracy, and ease of use obviously apply here. With every new type of device comes new questions to ask. Since we didn't get our hands on one yet, we have some techy questions that may already have simple answers but we'll ask them anyway.
- Is there anyway to have new readings sent automatically?
This would be important to parents and caregivers of those with hypoglycemia problems. This functionality would allow a third party to monitor readings without interaction from the user.
- When I plug the iBGSTar meter into my iPhone or iPod Touch, is it paired with it, allowing only that meter to sync information?
Some people own multiple devices and may want this information on all of them so whether or not the meter is restricted to one device could be important. Also, while a phone is generally used by one person, an iPod touch could be used by more than one. What happens if I plug more than one iBGStar meter into a device?
- Is it an actual sync where it only grabs new information since the last time I plugged it in or does it just grab every reading in it each time it's loaded?
This would affect the load time if it has to grab all the information each time (i.e. Grabbing 150 readings compared to grabbing 4). If I need to load some readings and view them quickly, do I need to set aside any extra time for it to download a long history of readings?
- How will it expand into the Apple ecosystem more?
Apple has the iPhone, the iPod Touch, the iPad, and the Mac desktop computers. The iBGStar is currently listed as working on the iPhone and iPod Touch only. An expansion into the iPad market or syncing with a desktop app would allow for better viewing of data on these larger screens.
- What other smartphones will they eventually work with?
While the iPhone is extremely popular, there are other systems to work with like Android and Windows Phones. Will they be expanding to these other systems?
The iBGStar meter has been sold overseas for some time so they likely have ideas about how to improve user interaction. The iBGStar is a decidely big step for the meter market. Incorporating data into devices we already use will makes things a lot easier for everyone.