Say good-bye to tedious record-keeping with a pencil and paper. A new breed of high-tech diabetes tools makes monitoring blood glucose, diet, exercise and medication easier than ever. Here, a look at what some of the latest products can do for you, and how to get started using them today.
Check Blood Sugar
The easier it is to record your blood-glucose readings, the easier it may be for you to stay on track, says Donna Tomky, M.S.N., R.N., C.D.E and immediate past-president of the American Association of Diabetes Educators.
Telcare BGM. Using test strips, the Telcare BGM takes a reading and automatically sends results to an iPhone app or website accessible to your doctor or caregiver. You can create charts of your readings and the meter will alert you if they are high or low, allowing your doctor to respond quickly and send recommendations directly to you. ($150, plus 50 test strips for $55.95, telcare.com)
iBGStar. A small, affordable option, the iBGStar is about the size of a USB drive. Use it on its own as a tiny meter, or plug it into an iPhone or iPod to make notes, transmit glucose levels and chart your progress using the diabetes-management appessentially turning your iPhone into a high-functioning glucose meter. ($99, bgstar.com)
Glooko. If you've got a glucose meter and an iPhone, buy a Glooko cable and download a free iPhone Logbook Charts app. You can send readings from your meter to the app. Unlike apps that are tailored to one particular type of meter, Glooko works with 17 different brands. ($39.95, glooko.com)
Pocket A1c. The Pocket A1c evaluates whether your A1c reading (a three-month total of blood sugar concentration) is high, then converts it into suggested daily blood-glucose targets to help you reach your goals. (Free, itunes.apple.com)
Track Your Progress
Diabetes apps can offer motivation, peer support and a deeper understanding of the disease, says Aaron Neinstein, M.D., Clinical Fellow in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco.
Glucose Buddy. This iPhone app is a complete tracking system that allows you to input information (like blood-sugar readings); create charts of your levels; track meals, snacks and medication levels; and estimate A1c test results based on your daily glucose readings. (Free, glucosebuddy.com)
OnTrack Diabetes. This app for Android phones is a one-stop resource for tracking meals, medications, blood pressure and pulse, exercise and weight. Though not as interactive as some of the iPhone apps, OnTrack allows you to create graphs and charts of your readings so you can monitor your progress. (Free, play.google.com)
DiabetesIQ. Think of this iPhone app as a mini course in diabetes self-care, with fun quizzes and trivia that help get you up to speed on the best food, diet and exercise choices. Get the answers to your most pressing health questions and compare your "IQ" to that of other app users. (Free, itunes.apple.com)
Deliver the Right Dosage
Insulin pumps have become smaller, easier to use and "smarter." While these devices may seem pricey, remember that they are a critical part of your daily routine and should be covered, at least in part, by insurance.
JewelPUMP. Insulin pumps and smart phones can now work together seamlessly. You wear the JewelPUMP like a patch on your skin (it contains a week's worth of insulin) and program your dosage and delivery with the JewelCOM smart phone, which includes an integrated glucose meter. ($1,500, jewelpump.com)
t:slim. This little pump is the slimmest one on the market. The t:slim has a touch screen and allows you to upload your blood glucose readings and other key data to the Web. Most important, the pump delivers insulin in the smallest increments possible, allowing it to adjust to your body's needs more sensitively than pumps of old. ($5,000, tandemdiabetes.com)
From our sister publication Diabetes Focus, Fall 2013