Product Review: The New iBGStar Glucose Meter: We love it! We really love it!

May 21, 2012By 21 Comments

We’re nearly 15 years into life with Type 1 diabetes on board at my house. We’ve seen a lot – the once-cool “Dex” meter that held the strips in a drum and looked like (well at least to me) a packet of birth control pills. The advent of not just insulin pumps – but insulin pumps in cool colors (my daughter once made a switch to the Cozmo for a few years based simply on the fact that it came in a cool purple color and you could “Name your pump” on the screen. Once Minimed came out in pink she went back). We’ve sampled “tubeless pumps” (wasn’t her thing) and tried all kinds of sites. We have a bevy of meters around, some for the color, some for the shape. We’ve tried it all.

So one would think we – or particularly my daughter, now a young adult with Type 1 Diabetes – would be jaded about new stuff. I mean, come on: other than a pump so smart you barely have to think about diabetes, what could jazz us up?

Well, hellooooo, iBGStar Blood Glucose Meter. Aren’t you the coolest?

 I’m not joshing. That’s how we feel. I first saw the iBGStar Meter, from Sanofi Diabetes, on line. Intrigued by it, I posted a link to the announcement of it coming out on my daughter’s Facebook wall. In as much time as it took her to read the release and hit sent, I got back a note. “I need this!” And then the familiar aside, “Mom! I’ll definitely check more with this. I promise!”

Okay, so I’ve heard that one before. But there was something about the iBGStar that just made sense to me.

It’s sleek. It’s cool. It’s new. But most of all, the fact that it hooked up to my daughter’s beloved iPhone just drew me in. Because unlike me, my daughter is not a baby boomer or part of Gen X or Gen Y or even Gen Mine. I would call her coming of age group  “iGen.” Because really, the way they think, the way they communicate, the way they hunt and gather and the way they just plain exist all has that now iconic “i’ in front of it. As a part of iGen, I just had a feeling she’d like this thing.

So I promised her she’d have one when she got home from college. The morning after we drove her back from DC, we went to our local Walgreen’s (I’d researched on line and found it was in stock there), where I forked out $79 for the meter and 10 strips. I’m lucky enough to be able to do that. I told her she could try it out with the 10 strips and if she really liked it we’d figure out our next step.

That night at dinner time, my daughter who honestly rarely checks more than three times a day lately (and has her doctor’s approval. Don’t judge; everyone has phases with diabetes and this is where she is at now), came into my office and said, “Mom? I’m running out of strips. I’ve checked six times already ….. and I love this thing. I love everything it does!”

 I asked her to sit me down and walk me through it (it’s her diabetes; I had not looked closely at everything it does). She showed me, screen by screen, the bells and whistles that were just pumping her up about checking – and not just checking, but paying attention to her diabetes.

So here is what it does: basically everything I did as a D Mom back in the day when I ruled her world. Only without nagging, without discussion and with some extra cool things as well.

The trending chart screen -- fun!

First, the checking is a snap, and actually kind of fun. You clip the iBGStar onto the bottom of your iPhone (and for Lauren this means taking off her OtterBox but she really does not mind), and it calls up the App you’ve already downloaded (that App takes a bit of time to download but once it’s there it’s a quick App). On your iPhone it shows a stripped kind of begging for a blood drop; on the iBGStar it’s ready to read. You apply a small drop of blood to the strip and the iPhone screen does this funky modern art swirly thing while you wait. Not much of a wait – it reads in less than five seconds. The number shows on your iBGStar first, then the meter prompts you with some questions. While you can type in your own comments, the comments they let you choose from almost always fit (see photo on this page).

The meter color codes numbers based on your target range. Now, I’ve been doing this since back in the days of old-fashioned log books (I still have them all – in the giant box in the basement I call the Museum of Lauren’s Diabetes History). Color coding has always just made sense to me. You can stare at charts of numbers forever – even well-designed charts, and miss trends. But color code numbers and the trends just jump out at you. So the Apps log book not only keeps track, but also adds color coding and your comments you choose. (Oh and did I mention you can choose lovely backgrounds for each screen? It’s fun. It’s soothing. And the reading colors are, well, refreshing if that makes any sense at all? They are all in colors that just ease your mind. Nice).

With the flip of a finger you can get to another screen that gives you a trending chart. (And yes, I used to keep one of those too back in the day. Anyone remember the first Minimed log books that you put dots on a trending chart each day? I loved that flipping thing). Lauren immediately loved this. Something about clicking on the app and looking at when she had lots of dots in a decent range spoke to her (hmmm – perhaps the way it spoke to me when I used to be in charge of her diabetes? There’s something just so satisfying about seeing a “no hitter day” when you are within a range for most of the time).

Another screen breaks down your day and gives you averages at all different times. By four days into the iBGStar Lauren noticed – on her own – that  she absolutely needs to up her lunchtime bolus amount. I cannot remember the last time she studied her numbers hard enough to make a dosage change decision (again; don’t judge. She’s just out of the teen years and transitioning quite well to being an adult with Type 1. It’s a process). Yet here she was doing it, unprompted by me; unguided by her endo. With the iBGStar, she was interacting with her diabetes and making educated decisions. All in the palm of her hand, where folks her age are now most comfortable.

Needless to say, I handed her my credit card that first evening and sent her back to Walgreen’s for more strips. I told her to just buy 50 and we’d figure it out from there. I emailed her endo, Dr. Wonderful, who gathered the information he needed and within minutes had filed a request for a formulary override to cover the strips. So now we are covered, the strips are no worry and my daughter is checking, regularly, without me ever mentioning it.

She also, with the click of one button, sent me an email report of how her week had gone. She’ll be able to do this with her endo too, and actually said she’s looking forward to sharing data with him and looking for ways to improve her care. And I just kept thinking: all this from a meter? Rock on.

It’s remarkable what a new piece of technology can do. So thinking about it, what really is new about the iBGStar? I mean, really, the things it does I did manually many, many years ago. But I think the package this comes in, the ease in which it all happens and just the iGen coolness of it is what makes it revolutionary.

Prompts for comments -- there are many more and you can make up your own too

Merging quality diabetes care into your life is only successful when it’s as seamless as possible. For young adults of iGen like my daughter, if it doesn’t happen through their handheld, it’s viewed as an extra step. And in the heart of every person with diabetes is the desire to somehow make it “fun,” (thus the purple pump so long ago). Lauren can choose her backgrounds for readings, from a beach scene (which she’s rocking now to welcome summer) to other lovely settings. And the cool swirly art thing as your meter counts down? Okay, it does not technically lower a1cs but by golly, it makes a person smile during an often-annoying medical procedure (because really that is what a blood sugar check is: a medical procedure).

I’m completely sold on the iBGStar and for now, so is Lauren. A week into it, she’s still finding new cool things and commenting on it, and she’s still checking more than she has in years. We did discover that the iBGStar reads really high (and I have not been able to find out exactly how high it reads … Lauren suggested putting sugar on her finger and doing a check but I just don’t want to do that), but it reads higher than any meter I’ve ever seen.

Oh, and here’s another little extra that Lauren pointed out: you cannot erase readings. When she discovered this, she was actually delighted. “Look, mom! You have to leave any reading you do on there. It won’t let you delete! I’m telling you, every parent of a teen should appreciate that!” Since she’s now at an age where she realizes that lying about your diabetes is only lying to yourself, she gets it. But she also understands that temptation to hit “Delete,” and appreciates that the iBGStar wants to help her just deal with whatever is going on. Excellent; just excellent.

We’re totally sold. I hope it lasts, this new delight in not just checking but managing diabetes for my young adult daughter.

Thank you, Sanofi Diabetes for, as we say here in Boston, a wicked smaaaahhhhht new tool. We’re loving our iGen device.

Disclaimer: Sanofi Diabetes did host a group of diabetes bloggers to sample the new meter but I was not one of them. I did reach out and ask for a press kit so I’d have more details but never got a response. So that means this review is 100 percent from Lauren and me – and no one else). Feel free to ask questions below and I’ll have Lauren respond.

Filed in: cool new diabetes toolsfeaturedGeneral Healthglucose meteribgstarKids CanTeen Years and the challenges Tags:

Comments (21)

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  1. Michelle Weisenberg says:

    *rushing out to buy one NOW*

  2. Krista Middleton says:

    I wish they made this for other types of phones! I don’t have an iphone, but for this one reason I wish I did! How neat! I still log mine into a book…when I remember. I want to all the time, but with 2 little boys running around I rarely have time! This would be perfect!

  3. Pam says:

    Thanks so much for posting your review! I was checking out their website just yesterday and this makes me even more comfortable with my excited reaction. Now to just check that we can get test strips locally (Canada) before passing it by my ipod-loving young teen. :-)

  4. Pearlsa says:

    I love mine too.

    Pam, test strips are available in Canada.

  5. Sara says:

    Waiting for the strips to show up on my insurance. Looks good but not at full price. Until then, I will be Pinging and using my new Verio.

  6. Abby Bayer says:

    That’s it. You’ve convinced me. I have signed up for the rx co-pay card and asking for a prescription tomorrow :) Love hearing the POV of a patient instead of a sales person sometimes!

  7. In the blog post you mentioned you “filed a request for a formulary override to cover the strips.”

    What is that? I would like to bring that up with my endo next month. I’ve been buying the strips myself — at $65 for 50. My insurance does not yet cover the device or the test strips..

    • Moira says:

      It’s a letter from your endo to insurance with a reason these particular strips are best for you. Call or email them today and ask your endo for one — they are familiar! Let me know how it goes!

  8. Jame says:

    I just had her doctor fax the rx to Walgreens and the insurance covered it. I paid ZERO for the meter and I don’t believe the pharmacist yet (they only had 50strips) but he said all 300 only cost $15. We shall see tomorrow

    • My employer offers a mail pharmacy benefit through CVS/Caremark. All prescriptions must be filled through them. Don’t you love how useful insurance is in the best country on earth.

      • Megan says:

        I just had the same conversation with CVS/Caremark…iBG star has a contract with Walgreens.

        I find Caremark to be very frustrating and I’m really disappointed with their prescription benefits, especially considering I don’t have the option to choose my pharmacy. Please post if you hear of any updates!

  9. Randi Ernst says:

    Agree that it is a very cool meter, I also have found it reads high when compared to my Accu-Check Compact Plus, around 20 points in the 100 – 120 range. Star reads 120 Accu-Check will read 100 from same drop of blood. I am new to all of this but might this have something to do with plasma vs whole blood? Are they amplifying the meter reading to make it match up better with lab readings?

  10. Jennifer says:

    Hi – I just got this meter from my local Diabetic center on friday.. I was so excited about it! but last night it gave me readings that were very very high, which just didnt seem right. I double checked my numbers on my old meter, and the ibgstar was 160 pts higher, so i double checked on both again. Has your daughter experienced readings that were not accurate as far as she could tell? I really want to use this meter, but it seems too far off to use. Thanks for this article, wishing you and your daughter continued good health! :) – Jennifer

  11. Jennifer says:

    Hi – I just got this meter from my local Diabetic center on friday.. I was so excited about it! but last night it gave me readings that were very very high, which just didnt seem right. I double checked my numbers on my old meter, and the ibgstar was 160 pts higher, so i double checked on both again. Has your daughter experienced readings that were not accurate as far as she could tell? I really want to use this meter, but it seems too far off to use. Thanks for this article, wishing you and your daughter continued good health! :) – Jennifer – oh, PS, i did 2 control tests, those were fine.

  12. jennifer P says:

    I too received this meter from the diabetic center. I was very excited about it, especially since it was so small and easy to use, and I could use it with my iphone. I am a type 1, and the readings it gave were 150-200 higher than my previous meter – i tested side by side, always off, especially if I was high. It was OK if I was under 150, then it was close, but I could tell it was wrong with the way I felt when above 150 or below 70 on 2 occasions. I called IBG, they replaced it, and the new one did exactly the same thing. ( I even ran controls on them both. came in perfect.) I had to suffer with this inaccurate meter for a month because I could not get a script filled for my previous meter through my ins until a month later. I will never ever use this meter again. If your type 1, I do not recommend using this meter, it could be life threatening to trust it.

  13. Jennifer says:

    Follow up: the replacement IBG star was just as wrong on readings as the first one. I gave up, I cannot have a meter so off when using insulin dependent on my levels. I did get a new meter from contour, a USB meter, that is fantastic, and easier to use, even though it doesn’t plug into my iPhone- but the IBGstar didn’t always sync right anyway. Lol I think this one has better features, all be it larger in size, and the back light and on screen trending is awesome. I saw they make this meter in a syncable version w your pump!!!!

    • Moira says:

      Thank you Jennifer! Lauren just has not had high reading problems so I was having a hard time finding a response. I appreciate this information!

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