PDA-based glucometer has mainly niche appeal

Monday, September 30, 2002

ALAMEDA, Calif. - With FDA clearance behind it, TheraSense has released its FreeStyle Tracker Diabetes Management System, the first glucose monitoring system to be integrated into a personal digital assistant (PDA).

The new diabetes monitoring and management tool enables patients to test for glucose levels and get a readout on the PDA screen, graph and chart the results over time, review carbohydrate food lists to track their food intake and more.

However, while TheraSense sees the product as a boon to physician/patient management of diabetes, HMEs are a bit more lukewarm; they see it as more of a niche item only for now.

"There's really no advantage to us to stock this item on the shelf, though we're happy to order it for people," said Mark Gielniak, vice president of Diabetes Plus, Warren, Mich. "The No. 1 thing is that insurance companies pay for monitors with glucose testing devices, which fall into the range of $55 to $79. This new item will retail for something like $275, so the addition of the PDA will price it out of the insurance market. The tester and everything else would be covered by insurance, but the PDA portion would have to be covered by the patient."

"I would say that for most of the people we see, who are often older people, this would be cumbersome and hard to operate and way too much information - more than most of them could really handle," observed George Karpman, director of Memorial Homecare, Springfield, Ill. HME