Phones really are smart these days; they do much more than just call people we know but did you ever think that it could become a glucometer? They look up numbers on the Internet for people we do not know and keep our calendars for us. Mobile phones let us send instant text messages to people all over the world. These handy devices bring us our mail in a flash, help us shop online, and enable us to lose ourselves in the latest Netflix or HBO sensation. Increasingly, our smartphones are also helping us monitor our health. And now, the smart phone is bringing change to the glucometer world.
A small apparatus like a FitBit or Apple Watch, for instance, can help keep track of daily exercise and sleep patterns, which keep us making healthier choices (or at least let us know when we do not make healthier choices). What is the latest and seemingly greatest step forward in smartphones keeping us healthy? It is the iHealth Wireless Blood Glucometer, sold as an iPhone accessory, paired with the iHealth application that comes standard (that means free!).
Currently, this blood glucose meter (with fifty test strips) costs just under forty dollars through Apple.com--and it is not the only device available for use with a smartphone. For caregivers and seniors who need to monitor their blood glucose (meaning sugar) levels because of diabetes, hypo- or hyperglycemia or other glucose-related disorders, these devices have the potential to be very useful tools. Their cost generally keeps them within reach for many seniors and their caregivers, which makes it easier to access and use these devices. Other meters available are the OneTouch Verio Sync meter, which uses the OneTouch Reveal app in the Apple store, and the Sanofi glucose meter iBGStar, which was the first device of its kind to be cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2012. It is slightly more expensive--around seventy-five dollars. Each of these brings technology together more conveniently than regular glucometers for seniors who need to monitor their blood glucose levels.
The question then is not whether these devices are useful--they certainly are--but why it makes sense to use this device over one provided through a doctor's office or over normal, non-wifi-enabled glucometers. The answer to that depends upon caregivers and medical professionals. Using the apps, caregivers can monitor and store information for the availability of medical professionals. The information can be used to help seniors stay on track or to diagnose problems more effectively. Caregivers who are not with the senior at all times can use this type of device. They can upload the information to their smartphones, and check out blood glucose readings for the entire day or week. An iPhone glucometer can also be used between visits to loved ones. This means family members can keep a sharper eye out for problems. Iphone glucometers can be rewarding for caregivers who are comfortable with technology, or who are looking to justify the purchase of a smartphone (and its accompanying data package).
One important caveat to jumping on the mobile device bandwagon is the size of the devices. Most of them are quite small and slim, which is absolutely helpful for carrying them around everywhere. Yet it opens up the risk of losing the object, especially for seniors with vision loss or cognitive decline. The technology will not break the bank to replace, but it is best to plan ways to keep track of it. It is also a good idea to keep an older model glucometer around in case of an emergency.
Find out more about the IHealth Wireless Blood Glucometer
Caregivers looking to add more assistive technology to their caregiving should keep an eye out for helpful apps. They can also look for Bluetooth- or wifi-enabled devices to replace older models. Keeping all of an elderly loved one's health information in one place makes life easier. By tracking various data points with these devices, changes or problems are likely to be more noticeable, with concrete information at hand to report to medical professionals. A FitBit or other step-tracker can let a caregiver know if a patient is walking less than usual, for example. This can prompt questions about mobility, pain levels, and social activity. The accompanying app can be used to set goals for weight loss or gain and for physical activity.
In general, devices and apps are only as useful as people make them. However, continually checking for updates on helpful technology can provide simple solutions to the many tasks associated with caregiving.
Dolan, Brian. (May 2, 2012). Apple Store now sells Sanofi's iPhone glucose meter. MobiHealth News, Available at http://mobihealthnews.com/17189/apple-stores-now-sell-sanofis-iphone-glucose-meter. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
iPhone Accessories. iHealth Wireless Blood Glucometer with 50 Test Strips. Apple.com. Available at http://www.apple.com/shop/product/HJ152ZM/A/ihealth-wireless-blood-glucometer-with-50-test-strips. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
OneTouch.Verio Sync Meter. Available at http://www.onetouch.com/veriosync. Retrieved September 5, 2016.