Monday, February 27, 2012

Telcare BGM review

Recently I was given the chance to demo the brand spankin' new Telcare blood sugar monitor; the first cellular-enabled monitor on the market.

Can I just say that I've kinda fallen in love with this meter? Seriously, I might run off to Vegas and marry it, so smitten am I. The company sent me the monitor starter kit, plus an extra 50 test strips, so I was able to give it a pretty good test drive.

Using the Telcare BGM, you are able to check your blood sugar, then it automatically uploads your info using (free) cellular service to their website. The website has all the usual data; 7/30/60/90 day trends, graphs, average BG, high and low BG, etc. The meter comes set up for you, and the company provides you with the log in info.

First off, although it sort of resembles my husband's iPhone, it doesn't have touch-screen capability, which would be cool. Instead there are three buttons on the side that you use. It's a bit thicker than an iPhone, not overly heavy, and fits quite nicely into Elise's diabetes bag.

The screen is bright, with an easy to read display. And it has pretty colours... oooooh!

It knows my name!

Because the meter is a lot bigger than Elise is used to, she had a bit of trouble using it to check her BG at first, but soon got the hang of it.

Getting Started
It has a rechargeable battery (love. this.), and I had to charge the meter for 12 hours when I first got it, and also had to wait 30 minutes after charging it to use it. Then it's onto the control solution...

The manual instructs that you use the control solution the first time you use the meter, and any time you open a new bottle of strips. Here's where it's a lot different than other meters. You have TWO control solution bottles; L1 and L2. The manual says to test L1 first, and then do L2. Why? When I asked customer service the reply was, "to be twice as sure the strips are good" (not a direct quote, but the gist of the response).

You also have to make sure you're in "control solution mode", and the correct one at that (the meter has L1, L2, and testing modes). The process is a little cumbersome, and for someone who hasn't gazed upon a control solution bottle in a very long time; annoying. Plus, using two strips for control solution made me cry a little bit.

The meter is very easy to use, and even though I read the manual, I think you could easily navigate the meter without it. It takes a teeny blood sample, .8 microlitres, which I understand is larger than the .3 of the Freestyle strips, but smaller than what the One Touch requires (which is what we use). The meter can read between 20-600 mg/dl, and hold up to 300 tests.

Comparing blood samples

There is a 6 second count down and up pops your BG reading, all shiny. Here's how this meter compared to our One Touch:

please ignore my poor photography skills and the fact the the time is wrong on the One Touch meter

You then have the option of tagging the reading (before breakfast, after activity etc), and then here's where the magic happens; your reading is then transmitted via cellular service to a secure on-line website. And yes, there IS an app for that too!

ne thing about the tagging, you only have 30 seconds to pick one, or else is just goes undesignated. When you have a hungry four year old and a cranky 1 year old howling at you, it can be hard to pick a tag in that short of a time.

The meter also has handy little alarms that you can set up to remind you to test your blood sugar. It isn't really relevant to me, being the mother of a CWD, but I could see how it could benefit an adult.

When my meter shipped, I received an email with a log-in and password. Once on the site, you can view your data, customize your high/low settings, create printable reports, and allow a third-party (like your endo) read-only access to your data. Admittedly, I don't have a lot of experience with on-line tracking software, but I found the site easy to use and navigate.

I don't have a smart phone, so I've only looked over Fred's shoulder at the app, but he loves it. When he was at work he'd call me and say, "so, I see she was 112 before lunch!" Big brother is waaaaatching you!

Final Thoughts
I'm guessing this meter was designed with adults in mind, but I could see where this would be an awesome tool for parents of teens and pre-teens. For the kids, it looks cool. And for the parents, it would help us to keep tabs on our kiddos without having to always ask them for their numbers. Plus it's a great way for you to be able to view their numbers while at school (or a sleep over, at camp... etc.)

The meter retails for $150 ($100 with a contract) and the strips cost $56 for 50 ($35 with contract). The contract is basically something you sign for a year saying that the company will auto-ship you at least 4 bottles of test strips every quarter.

Right now, Telcare isn't in network with almost any insurance companies (as they are a fairly new start-up), but they are looking to change that as quickly as possible.

I think this is a wonderful meter and a handy tool to have in your diabetes care arsenal. We get a lot of the same information it supplies from our Omnipod PDM, but I preferred to view it it on the Telcare website.

ut, unless it becomes more affordable, we will not be using this meter once our strips run out. As soon as they are in-network with our insurance, you can bet I'll be looking into it again.

If you want to read more about this meter, Kerri has an excellent review (with more pictures than I have) here. And you can read the Wall Street Journal's review here.

To sum it all up, here are my list of pros and cons:

-small blood sample
-printable reports
-caregiver access
- free app
-rechargeable battery* (3 year lifespan)

*The charge on the battery lasted from Friday morning to Sunday night. Having said that, we probably wasted a lot of battery just by playing around with it.

-not in-network with pretty much any insurance companies
-not enough time to pick tag
-can't change BG tag (unless you added it manually via the app. You cannot change a tag you selected on the meter itself)
-only able to add new BG (taken with another meter) using the app

Although Telcare provided me with the meter and testing supplies at no charge, they did not ask me to review, blog, or say nice things about their product. All opinions are mine. And you can't have them.


  1. I would love to say how much I learned about this new, cool meter through your fabulous review . . . . but alas, I can not.

    I was Wwwaaayyyyy too distracted by the photos of your rode-hard-and-out-away-wet pink ultra mini. What the heck happened to that thing? Did Mattias chew on it? Did Elise carry it in the bottom of a beach bag? Did seven eat eat and you rescue it from the south end? Oh my.

    Actually I am quite impressed with how you are obviously one to wring out the last drops of a meter. That's badass . . . . . Vvvveeerrrryyy badass

  2. Amy, thanks for making me laugh out loud :-)

  3. Dude! I've never seen such a haggard looking Mini either!! :)

    I've charged my Telcare but that's as far as I've made it so far. I need to start testing. If the strips don't make it onto my insurance plan, it's not happening past the sample strips. I can't afford it.

  4. You can edit BG readings when you are in the iPhone app. I had marked some as before snack and then decided to change them to "after lunch."

    We just started using the meter today, but I've been using the free app to log blood sugars all week.

    Thanks for such a nice overview!

  5. that sounds like a great tool for TJ, he struggles with keeping up on his logbooks this would be great. He has an app he uses usually, but if it did it automatically that would be even better. Thanks for sharing your honest review.

  6. @ Leighann - I changed the wording to make it more clear... you cannot change a tag that is added using the meter, only ones that are added manually via the app.

  7. It sounds nice though I would not put at the cons the blood. If it needs 0.8 is a lot almost 3 times more than the freestyle. Most meters nowdays use .5 or less. I think bringing out a new meter that uses more blood is just not good buisness

  8. I was blown away by your One Touch Mini Meter...that has seen some seriously hard use. :)

    We have the Telcare meter and use it for our son who is in Middle School. Very nice for keeping silent tabs on him during the day. Gives him some freedom, and me some piece of mind. Love that it logs for us, makes D life a little bit easier and I will take that whenever I can get it.

    Our insurance is covering the strips at 80%. I pay up front, Telcare submits to insurance and insurance will reimburse me my portion...thats how it is supposed to work, waiting for the first batch to process through. :) My co-pay on the freestyle strips was $129.00 for 300, so this is a MUCH less expensive option for us.

  9. Thanks for the great information on something I wasn't even aware existed...Pretty cool!

  10. I hadn't heard about this meter until now, but I love it! With that said, I'm curious if you can log the food you eat with the blood sugar? I used to keep a very detailed log for our son and now that we are on the pump, I'm not so good since we just upload his numbers. I'd love to be able to log the foods with the sugars so I can keep track of how foods affect him again.

  11. @ JP's Gal - I wish! Unfortunately, it doesn't have that capability on the meter itself. But, using the website or app, you can go in later and add notes beside the blood sugar numbers. I'm hoping to do a post with a bunch of (hopefully better quality) pictures soon and will do a screen shot of that.

  12. Telcare is working on getting FDA approval to add the functionality of being able to add insulin and food logs to the meter. They said once they have FDA approval it will be included in a software update. For now, it can be done on the iphone App. It's a little clunkier, but it works. :)

  13. thanks for the review! i would be more interested in it if it could transmit the info to her pump as well, like her current one does.

    ps, did you expect to get so many comments on the condition of your old meter? i also noticed that it seems to have taken a lickin, but keeps on tickin.


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