A while ago I wrote about using Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre continuous glucose monitor (CGM) which I had received complimentary from Abbott to sample. Experience hasn’t dimmed my enthusiasm for the device, but I’ve also found that what’s great about this system doesn’t end with the device itself.
As anyone who has diabetes, or has to deal with someone with diabetes, learns over time is the dogged always-there nature of the condition. Even if you are diligent about seeing your endocrinologist or GP every three months or so, that’s a lot of time contending with all the variables of diabetes on your own.
The advances in blood glucose meters – yes, the dread “finger stick,” but they’ve gotten better and better – was a great step forward for patients being able to adjust their daily behavior based on real information (rather than trying to interpret weird twinges and feelings in your body). With many of those BG monitors, you could download the data onto your computer and try to spot trends.
Enter the CGM, which accurately shows recent trends right on the screen because it’s capturing your glucose levels every couple of minutes. And, you can go still further by downloading the CGM data into your computer and see longer-term trends.
Everyone talks about “patient empowerment ” – to the point of over-use, in my mind – but this is a case where it’s true, and the FreeStyle Libre interface is the best I’ve seen to really give you some power over this accursed disease. From pattern graphs (daily, mealtime, etc.) to weekly and monthly summaries, plus a useful report called “Glucose Pattern Insights” you can get a very clear picture of what’s been going on with your blood glucose. Equally cool, for whatever time period you choose, it gives you an estimate of your HbA1c. It doesn’t replace your quarterly A1c blood test, but it certainly is a nice change from waiting to find out where that number is.
This functionality is all completely aside from the excellent patient support that Abbott provides. I’ve used probably five different brands of blood glucose monitors, and two CGMs (and the DDaughter has been on a pump since she was 14), so I’m fairly well-versed in patient support. Some are great (Abbott and MedTronic are tops in my view), some are working hard at getting great, and some just don’t seem to understand why patient support for diabetics is important.
My understanding is that the uptake on the FreeStyle Libre has been very strong, and I’m sure Abbott’s offer of a free device and a sensor for Dexcom users will stoke that furnace a bit more.
Coming up soon: Getting off the purely-diabetes topics, an eye-opening primer on “sugar alcohols” – dieter’s delight, or demise?