Review: Glooko logbook and meter sync cable

By | 11 October, 2012

The year is 2012. This is the year that I use my iPhone to monitor my sleep, bike rides and even where the nearest earthquake is. Yet, I have never really got to grips with using it to monitor my diabetes. This is most likely due to the fact that seeing all my blood glucose results (highs, lows and all) on one neat little graph incites a deep seated terror in me! However, I shunned my fears and valiantly tested the kit…

How it works
The Glooko logbook allows you to download all your results from your blood glucose meter into a free app on your iPhone. This is done via a rather pricey cable (£32.50) which connects the two devices. If you have an Accu-Chek meter, you are extra lucky as you have to pay out another £12.25 for the infra-red adaptor. Then you just connect the two devices and sync.

Diabetic maths

Inside the app, you can view your results much like you would do in a paper chart but you can also record details such as the amount and type of insulin you administered, what you ate, exercise, feelings, favourite ABBA song etc. You can also directly email these to your doctor or yourself. In theory, it is simple enough for a diabetic chimp to do. However, I had to try quite a few times to get the devices to recognise one another.

I also made rather a fundamental error in assuming that all Accu-Chek Aviva testing kits are equal. Glooko would not recognise my Aviva combo, nor does it recognise certain meters that are not black in colour. Odd but true! So if you’re already sold by my review, please check carefully that your meter is compatible.

What it’s like to use
So, once I had dug out a black coloured Aviva Nano, I was in business! I uploaded my horrific results and examined them in the log book. If anything, chimps have been taken into account too much throughout the design process; I found the log-book overly simple and lacking functionality. You can look at your blood sugars, click on them to see what you ate/bloused at that time but that’s about it. It would be great to have a few simple graphs or colour code blood glucose results to aid in visualisations of patterns.

What blood sugars look like within the app. Astute readers will notice these blood sugars are really terrible by British standards!

The best feature…
The star feature of the app is the carb counting functionality. If you want to know the amount of carbs in your mid-morning scotch egg, just search their database and specify how much you ate. You can also search by restaurant although this has been developed for an American audience so common British restaurants e.g., Pizza Express, Wagamama etc. aren’t listed. Unfortunately for Glooko (but lucky for you!) this is free to use.

Room for improvement…
As a pump user, I am continually astounded that no one has developed an app that allows you to enter your basal insulin rate. It seems such a simple thing to add in but is still missing from this app!

I believe some of the oddities like not being able to graph your results or manually enter readings are related to some strict (and fairly mental) regulations by the American FDA who act on the basic assumption that diabetics are deviants who given the chance, will manipulate their blood glucose data to take over the world. The good thing is that the Glooko folks sound pretty passionate and dedicated to continually developing the app for the European market so in time things will probably improve.

My diagnosis…
Although I generally adhere to the principle of “Keep It Simple, Stupid!”, at present the app is actually basic rather than simple. As owner of an AccuChek Combo pump that allows me to record my carbs, download data to a pc and Bluetooth to my pump (yet ironically cannot Bluetooth to Glooko), there just aren’t enough benefits of using this app to motivate me to get my iPhone out every time I test to enter the insulin and carbs. I would gladly pay a few pounds for the app if I could directly Bluetooth my results to my phone. However, paying out £45 for what is essentially an electronic table (plus good carb counting app) seems a bit steep. However, Glooko will probably amend these issues way faster than every kit being equipped with Bluetooth.

If anyone else would like to road test the system, please send me a private message via ShootUp, or leave a comment below.

2 thoughts on “Review: Glooko logbook and meter sync cable

  1. Tim

    Thanks for the reviewing it for us Faith. Us non-Apple heathens weren’t able to give it a go.

    I think you’ve hit the problem with most diabetes software – it’s too simple. Seeing a graph of your BG results is all well and good but it doesn’t really tell you very much. What would be far more useful would be to look at your data over, say, a 90 or 120 day period. With this amount of data a computer could, in theory, crunch through it and spit out some decent analysis. It could perhaps reveal that over a long period you always go high after dinner or always go low after breakfast – that would be useful stuff to know.

    Software could then make suggestions based on the data you’ve given it – lower you basal rate during the morning; increase your ratios at night and so on. But there is nothing that currently does this.

    I do know of one well-known manufacturer that’s messing about with more advanced software, but my spy tells me it will just be for the benefit of doctors – the great unwashed won’t be allowed access to it.

  2. Mike

    I also tried to give the Glooko a go, but as owner of an Aviva that was too old and an Expert that was too new/unsupported the cable just would not work for me.

    I was also very surprised by the lack of any kind of data analysis. I could see the carb library as being pretty handy though.

    It struck me that Glooko would be most useful for occasional loggers/uploaders who would want to grab a bunch of results to look at the day before a clinic appointment. The faff of connecting and syncing meter to phone every time is significantly greater than opening your logging app of choice and entering x.x in the BG field where you’d be adding carb/activity details anyway. And you can’t add BGs manually into Glooko.

    I passed mine on to someone who offered to provide some feedback, but I’ve not heard how they got on with it.

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