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Phone-Linked Glucose Meter Shows Health, Monetary Benefits

Livongo glucose meter

Livongo glucose meter (Livongo Health)

17 August 2017. The maker of a glucose meter that connects to cell-phone networks reports users of the device enjoy lower blood glucose readings and financial savings. Livongo Health in Mountain View, California issued a report of its findings today, which includes data presented earlier this summer at a meeting of American Diabetes Association.

The Livongo for Diabetes system is designed for people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The system includes a smart blood glucose meter that connects to cellular networks, and transmits data from the meter to family members, clinicians monitoring the person’s condition, and third-party diabetes counselors certified by Livongo. The meter also collects other data related to the person’s health, such as physical activity.

People connected to the meter can provide feedback to the individual via voice telephone, e-mail, or text message. Data from the smart meter are sent as well to a database in the cloud, where a rules-based inference engine analyzes the data and offers personalized guidance to the individual with diabetes and his or her physician. Livongo users with the mobile app can receive coaching, with tips on nutrition and lifestyle changes, from licensed third-party counselors.

The Livongo report, citing data presented to American Diabetes Association, shows people with the connected glucose meters and taking part in the coaching program were able to decrease their average blood glucose levels, as measured by hemoglobin A1c, or HbA1c, from 8.0 percent at the start of the program to 7.1 percent after 90 days. In addition, glucose meter users maintained an average HbA1c score of 7.0 percent —  a target recommended by American Diabetes Association — for 180 days. These results were based on tracking 7,248 Livongo participants for 1 year.

The results also show participants are better able to keep their blood glucose levels in safe levels, between 80 and 180 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). When blood glucose levels go to low, a condition known as hypoglycemia with symptoms including dizziness or sweating, can occur. High blood sugar levels over time can lead to serious complications such as kidney failure, heart attack, and stroke. The company says that after 1 year Livongo participants reduced their likelihood of too-low blood glucose readings (less than 80 mg/dL) by up to 23 percent, and the chance of too-high readings (more than 180 mg/dL) by up to 21 percent.

The company cites data published in 2006 and 2013 to show the substantial economic cost of diabetes on people with the condition, with $7,900 per patient each year attributed to diabetes itself and total annual medical costs of up to $13,700. Using an existing cost model, Livongo estimates the 1 percent reduction in HbA1c over 180 days yields savings of $73 to $99 a month for each participant. In addition, the company estimates savings from lower costs for diabetes supplies more than offset the $75 per month Livongo subscription cost.

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