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…
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.
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.
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.
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.