GlucoPhone Gets Real… Sleek Models You Bleed On

When I first reported on the GlucoPhone last summer, it was looking like a classic case of vaporware. But now it seems that New Jersey-based HealthPia has actually pulled it off: they’ve obtained FDA approval for their patent-pending technology that integrates a blood glucose meter with a standard-issueGlucophone cell phone.

The GlucoPhone is not just for SENDING blood glucose data over the net. It’s actually a special glucose meter (GlucoPack™) that’s fitted onto the back of a cell phone. So yes, you stick your test strip into a little slot on the side of the phone and bleed on it, just like you would any meter. Then you can immediately “text” your results to a database available online with the subscriber’s permission, i.e. you set the access rights.

Check out this Fox News link for a quick demonstration.

After several years of what seemed like empty talk, HealthPia has quietly “launched” its first marketable model, the Verizon LG5200 phone (CDMA platform) for the US market at last week’s AADE Conference.

“The fact of the matter is that most people with diabetes are more concerned with the daily hassle of managing the disease than the long-term complications. But with something like this, we can help cut the hassle and focus on what’s important,” HealthPia President Kathi O’Neill tells me. She is Type 1 herself for 27 years and insists that she wouldn’t feel right promoting any diabetes product that didn’t live up to its promise of improving on the usability aspect.

The original GlucoPhone technology was developed in Korea, and imported to the US by Dr. Stephen Kim in 2003.

Razr_proto_3 The glucose meter component actually replaces the back of the cell phone, and software functions normally contained in traditional “bulky” glucose meters are handled by the cellular technology. The hardware is specially designed to fit in standard commercial cell phones. The company has ambitious plans to develop more models for popular, sleek consumer phones including the Motorola Razr and the Apple iPhone, if you can believe it (see prototypes pictured — and yes, Kathi read my recent appeal to Steve Jobs for some help “consumerizing” D-devices). HealthPia’s iPhone prototype uses a small dongle device called the Gluco+, about the size of a quarter.

Iphone_proto_2 But it hasn’t been — and won’t be — easy, since a new mold must be developed for each individual phone design, and HealthPia must negotiate certification with each cellular carrier. “The wireless people don’t understand the glucose monitoring business, and the glucose monitoring people don’t understand the wireless companies,” O’Neill laments.

Meanwhile, the first models have hit the market at a humble introductory rate of $149 for the unit, plus $20 for each vial of 50 test strips. Yes, yes, I know, you have lots of questions for Ms. O’Neill. So did I:

So who actually makes the BG meter technology and test strips?

We work with a major, established OEM (original equipment manufacturer).

But you have to buy the test strips from HealthPia? What about insurance coverage?

Yes, we distribute them exclusively at the moment. We’re selling the supplies at a loss for the introductory period, to make them affordable without insurance coverage. You have to get a foothold in the market. Later on, with reimbursement, we can move to more equitable market pricing.

What about calibration and test strip coding?

Yes, you have to enter a code (calibrate), and it comes with control solution, just like most regular meters on the market today.

Is there any charge for the database service?

No, that’s part of the deal. By the way, if you already have a Verizon LG5200 phone in the US, you can purchase the meter pack and software only as an add-on. Otherwise, it’s a turnkey solution: you buy the whole product together. There’s no extra charge for transmitting your data, and you can text message anyone you want. You can either provide your login and password to individuals you want to allow access, or we can add other authorized users for you, but only with your express permission, and there are lots of security layers. The huge advantage is the ability set parameters to automatically send results to anyone you want, any time you want. So if a kid’s in school from 9 to 3, for example, you could set the GlucoPhone to send results to their parent during that time period.

And the cellphone service?

Of course, you still have to pay for that. That’s handled by the carrier, Verizon or AT&T, etc. It’s totally separate from the glucose meter portion.

So who’s actually used this in the real world so far?

We held clinical trials with adolescents at Indiana University. It was a relatively small sample size, but the results were amazing — even in regard to lowering A1c levels.

I’ve worn an insulin pump since 1986. Now my doctor might actually be happy, because I refuse to write down my blood sugars. I’m more visual, I need graphs. But it’s impossible for me to do my own trend charting. I just never download all the data.

The ultimate goal here is to get the meter manufacturers and the wireless technology manufacturers to work together to get us something useful. I mean, I go out often and forget my meter. I forget other things, but I never forget my phone…

Well now, that SOUNDS pretty real. I can’t wait to try one in my real, very wireless, no-data-logging, impatient, less-blood-and-fewer-gadgets-please world.

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36 Responses

  1. Melissa
    Melissa August 7, 2007 at 8:34 am | | Reply

    Totally cool! I was just thinking the other day how cool it would be if they could meld my OmniPod PDM with my cellphone, MP3 player, etc. You know, have it all in one system so you only have the one item to carry around. Yes, I’ve become a total technogeek.

    The other night I ripped open one of my used OmniPod Pods to see the insides. :)
    Melissa

  2. steve
    steve August 7, 2007 at 10:02 am | | Reply

    I tried to contact Healthpia. The phone # at their website is bogus. Also, the Verizon LG5200 is no longer available. Put this back into the “vaporware” file. You’ve been had.

  3. Andrew
    Andrew August 7, 2007 at 10:39 am | | Reply

    What I really want is GlucoSneakers! Seriously, it would be nice to have one device, but I just don’t see this being a big seller.

  4. Ed
    Ed August 7, 2007 at 11:03 am | | Reply

    Would totally work for me – having to carry around my meter, phone and palm pilot can really fill up my pockets. Thus I need a man bag – would love to leave the leather at home.

  5. AmyT
    AmyT August 7, 2007 at 11:22 am | | Reply

    Steve,
    I just rang the company again at their posted number, 201.945.6277, and it works fine. For validation on the company’s existence, I can also put you in touch with the President.

  6. RichW
    RichW August 7, 2007 at 11:35 am | | Reply

    Okay, where’s the blade with the nail file? When I first saw the picture of the phone with the test strip sticking out of the side I thought it was a joke but after reading your post I understand the utility. Thank you.

  7. Bernard Farrell
    Bernard Farrell August 7, 2007 at 12:49 pm | | Reply

    Amy

    Just FYI, I tried the site glucophone.com, assuming it is owned by the company.

    My spy checking software warned me that this site has been known to distribution spyware.

    There’s probably no connection between the website and HealthPia, but just in case someone else decides to try it.

    I’m curious about the time delay between the FDA 510k approval and this announcement. The FDA approval was last year, any idea why it’s taken so long?

  8. Kathi O'Neill
    Kathi O'Neill August 7, 2007 at 1:41 pm | | Reply

    Melissa,
    I am sorry that you experienced difficulty reaching us. We have received an overwhelming amount of calls which has overloaded the phone system making it roll into the Verizon mailbox system. You may also reach us at 877-GLUCOPHONE or call me direct at 856-875-5057. Let me explain a little about the LG5200 phone. HealthPia works with wireless carriers to determine the most popular models to deploy for new phone sales and which models already are in use with a large base. A Verizon LG5200 owner may add the GlucoPack making their current phone a GlucoPhone. While you can not purchase the 5200 directly from Verizon you may still purchase them through HealthPia and other third parties. I assure you that with the FDA 510K and QualComm’s certification for the Verizon network we are far from vaporware. If you have any other concerns feel free to email me at kjoneill@healthpia.us.

  9. Kathi O'Neill
    Kathi O'Neill August 7, 2007 at 1:41 pm | | Reply

    Melissa,
    I am sorry that you experienced difficulty reaching us. We have received an overwhelming amount of calls which has overloaded the phone system making it roll into the Verizon mailbox system. You may also reach us at 877-GLUCOPHONE or call me direct at 856-875-5057. Let me explain a little about the LG5200 phone. HealthPia works with wireless carriers to determine the most popular models to deploy for new phone sales and which models already are in use with a large base. A Verizon LG5200 owner may add the GlucoPack making their current phone a GlucoPhone. While you can not purchase the 5200 directly from Verizon you may still purchase them through HealthPia and other third parties. I assure you that with the FDA 510K and QualComm’s certification for the Verizon network we are far from vaporware. If you have any other concerns feel free to email me at kjoneill@healthpia.us.

  10. Kathi O'Neill
    Kathi O'Neill August 7, 2007 at 1:41 pm | | Reply

    Melissa,
    I am sorry that you experienced difficulty reaching us. We have received an overwhelming amount of calls which has overloaded the phone system making it roll into the Verizon mailbox system. You may also reach us at 877-GLUCOPHONE or call me direct at 856-875-5057. Let me explain a little about the LG5200 phone. HealthPia works with wireless carriers to determine the most popular models to deploy for new phone sales and which models already are in use with a large base. A Verizon LG5200 owner may add the GlucoPack making their current phone a GlucoPhone. While you can not purchase the 5200 directly from Verizon you may still purchase them through HealthPia and other third parties. I assure you that with the FDA 510K and QualComm’s certification for the Verizon network we are far from vaporware. If you have any other concerns feel free to email me at kjoneill@healthpia.us.

  11. Kathi O'Neill
    Kathi O'Neill August 7, 2007 at 1:42 pm | | Reply

    Sorry Melissa. This was for Steve. I picked up the wrong name from the posting. My apologies.

  12. Kathi O'Neill
    Kathi O'Neill August 7, 2007 at 1:42 pm | | Reply

    Sorry Melissa. This was for Steve. I picked up the wrong name from the posting. My apologies.

  13. Kathi O'Neill
    Kathi O'Neill August 7, 2007 at 1:42 pm | | Reply

    Sorry Melissa. This was for Steve. I picked up the wrong name from the posting. My apologies.

  14. Kathi O'Neill
    Kathi O'Neill August 7, 2007 at 1:58 pm | | Reply

    Amy,

    In response to Bernard’s inquiry, HealthPia does not own http://www.glucophone.com but http://www.glucophone.net. We will be releasing a new, enhanced user portal shortly where users may access their test results amongst other functionality. As to the question about the delay between the FDA 510K approval and the market release, HealthPia requires additional wireless carrier certifications for the mobile phone. The first time approval processes for any company are always the longest and most difficult.

  15. Kathi O'Neill
    Kathi O'Neill August 7, 2007 at 1:58 pm | | Reply

    Amy,

    In response to Bernard’s inquiry, HealthPia does not own http://www.glucophone.com but http://www.glucophone.net. We will be releasing a new, enhanced user portal shortly where users may access their test results amongst other functionality. As to the question about the delay between the FDA 510K approval and the market release, HealthPia requires additional wireless carrier certifications for the mobile phone. The first time approval processes for any company are always the longest and most difficult.

  16. Kathi O'Neill
    Kathi O'Neill August 7, 2007 at 1:58 pm | | Reply

    Amy,

    In response to Bernard’s inquiry, HealthPia does not own http://www.glucophone.com but http://www.glucophone.net. We will be releasing a new, enhanced user portal shortly where users may access their test results amongst other functionality. As to the question about the delay between the FDA 510K approval and the market release, HealthPia requires additional wireless carrier certifications for the mobile phone. The first time approval processes for any company are always the longest and most difficult.

  17. julia
    julia August 7, 2007 at 3:27 pm | | Reply

    Whoa, that’s very cool. I’d love to have one of those, but even at $20 a vial, it’s way beyond my price range. O goes thru 300 strips a month, which is $240/month. Add that to the usual $60 +/- per month cell phone bill when you have a contract and it’s well out of my budget.

  18. Kathi O'Neill
    Kathi O'Neill August 7, 2007 at 5:20 pm | | Reply

    Julia,

    Right now they are $20 for a box of 50 making the cash outlay for 300 strips $120. Depending on our type of medical insurance it may be reimbursable by your carrier.

  19. Kathi O'Neill
    Kathi O'Neill August 7, 2007 at 5:20 pm | | Reply

    Julia,

    Right now they are $20 for a box of 50 making the cash outlay for 300 strips $120. Depending on our type of medical insurance it may be reimbursable by your carrier.

  20. Kathi O'Neill
    Kathi O'Neill August 7, 2007 at 5:20 pm | | Reply

    Julia,

    Right now they are $20 for a box of 50 making the cash outlay for 300 strips $120. Depending on our type of medical insurance it may be reimbursable by your carrier.

  21. FabGrandma
    FabGrandma August 7, 2007 at 7:16 pm | | Reply

    This is the best news I have read lately. I always forget my meter too, but I always have my cellphone with me. I want one!

  22. Adam
    Adam August 7, 2007 at 7:29 pm | | Reply

    Awesome! Now I can buy an iPhone and it will be a tax-deductible medical expense!
    Oh, don’t I wish….

  23. Penny
    Penny August 8, 2007 at 6:28 pm | | Reply

    Wow. That is awesome. I would love for Riley to be able to check his blood sugar at school and it be sent right to me.

  24. Kevin McMahon
    Kevin McMahon August 9, 2007 at 5:43 pm | | Reply

    I followed the link to ‘clinical trials’ but it looks like the clinical trial at Indiana was only focus groups? Is there another trial posted somewhere that shows the lower A1c results from patients who actually used the device?

  25. Engadget
    Engadget August 10, 2007 at 11:37 pm | | Reply

    HealthPia’s GlucoPhone gets FDA approval

    Filed under: Cellphones While the idea of a diabetes phone is far from new, a company dubbed HealthPia

  26. Pocket.Net - Mobile 2.0
    Pocket.Net - Mobile 2.0 August 11, 2007 at 12:05 am | | Reply

    HealthPia’s GlucoPhone gets FDA approval

    Filed under: Handsets , Peripherals , LG , Verizon Wireless , CDMA While the idea of a diabetes phone

  27. The Medical Quack
    The Medical Quack August 11, 2007 at 10:30 am | | Reply

    Diabetic Cell phone gets FDA approval

    This is quite a story here. Both Verizon and ATT are slated to be up and running with this new cell

  28. emrupdate
    emrupdate August 11, 2007 at 10:45 am | | Reply

    Diabetic Cell phone gets FDA approval

    This is quite a story here. Both Verizon and ATT are slated to be up and running with this new cell

  29. John Kuhn
    John Kuhn August 11, 2007 at 4:20 pm | | Reply

    lovely idea.. i do like it a lot, but shouldn’t this be paired with a smart phone? i really dont want to downgrade my phone in order get glucose checking.. but a smart phone would be able to data log and graph on the fly… i used to have a freestyle pda for this.. but carrying everything around was a bit daunting..

  30. Cheryl
    Cheryl August 12, 2007 at 3:13 pm | | Reply

    My fourteen-year old son has been using the glucophone for over two months and I can’t begin to tell you how wondeful it is! We love every aspect of it! When asked what he likes best about the phone he tells everyone that I am not nagging him as much about his scroes because I can just look at the text messages that I receive on my phone. If you want more information about the phone please contact me at glucophone@wi.rr.com. I have also developed a 504 Plan for school use. Don’t miss out on this great product – it has changed our relationship!

  31. Trusted.MD Network
    Trusted.MD Network August 14, 2007 at 8:42 am | | Reply

    Grand Rounds is up

    by Tony Chen

    This week’s medical blogosphere grand rounds is up at Swiss blog Med Journal Watch, where the theme is sudden changes of all sorts.

    A few links to check out:
    - ChronicBabe has come to accept her chronic disease
    - A gut-wrenching story and

  32. Tech Digest
    Tech Digest August 15, 2007 at 7:46 am | | Reply

    GlucoPhone: a mobile with built-in blood glucose meter for people with diabetes

    HealthPia has had its GlucoPhone handset appr…

  33. Trusted.MD Network
    Trusted.MD Network August 19, 2007 at 11:14 pm | | Reply

    Diabetes Phone

    by Tony Chen

    Check out this post from DiabetesMine on the new GlucoPhone brought to us by HealthPia. An exerpt from the post:

    The GlucoPhone is not just for SENDING blood glucose data over the net. It’s actually a special glucose meter (GlucoPack™)

  34. Keith
    Keith November 12, 2007 at 11:57 am | | Reply

    The websites glucophone.net and .com are not directly related to the HealthPia company. Those websites are old and outdated. Also the privacy and terms and conditions link at the bottom do not work that is usually a red flag about a website.

  35. Solaria
    Solaria January 5, 2008 at 11:55 pm | | Reply

    I don’t get it… don’t you still need test strips? lancets? lancet holder?

    And what’s the point of testing your blood, if you don’t act on the result? So a test before a meal, results in an injection ( needles, insulin vials); a test during the day might result in a carb correction ( glucose snack)

    Guess I’m old fashioned, but I need a log book to track glucose readings, carb input, insulin, etc…

    So: What’s the point of putting the glucose meter in the cell phone, since you still need to carry test strips, lancets, lancets holder, needles, insulin, carb snack, log book….

    Hey, I could put my cell phone in my glucose meter bag! Then I’d only have one item to carry around!

  36. dmitri
    dmitri April 1, 2008 at 9:10 pm | | Reply

    Wow. That is awesome. I would love for Riley to be able to check his blood sugar at school and it be sent right to me.

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