About a month ago, the company Dario contacted me and asked if I would be willing to test their new diabetes management system and meter. Always interested in trying the latest and greatest, I happily agreed. Dario supplied me with the meter and a limited supply of test strips and I downloaded the app on my phone. So here is my honest review of the meter from my experiences over the past couples weeks.
Let’s just say, the meter makes a damn good first impression. I’m someone who appreciates the artistry of a well packaged device. I love opening Apple products for that very reason. All my past meters have just come in a normal box, nothing special. The Dario meter was not like that at all. Every piece had a place, the packaging was slick and sophisticated. It was a pleasure to unpack this medical device, and that says something.
The instructions and reading material was conveniently hidden within the box while the lancets were cleverly stored in a neat compartment next to the meter.
The All-in-One Device
There are 2 things that make this meters and management system so unique. The first is that it turns your smartphone into the meter (more to come on that later). And the second, is that the lancet and test strip holder are combined into one, well designed and easy to use device.
Holding the device, it doesn’t look anything like past glucose meters I’ve used before. Without knowing what it is, I never would have guessed what it was used for, which is great if you like to keep things discreet.
The needle is housed on one end of the device. To access it, you just snap off the top orange piece. You can set the depth of the needle, and then you follow the arrow and pull down on the black piece to load the needle before pressing the orange button to release it. Super simple.
They’re stored on the other end! How awesome is that?! No need to carry around multiple pieces. The cartridge of 25 test strips just snaps into place. You just remove the white piece at the end. The box of test strips came with two 25 test strip cartridges.
The Meter Attachment
The Dario system turns your smart phone into your meter by plugging in a small attachment into the headphone jack. The attachment is also stored in the all-in-one device.
The packaging on the box clearly explains how to download and set up the app on your phone, walking you through the set-up. To test your blood sugar, you plug in the attachment and open the app. If the attachment is in correctly, it will prompt you to insert a new strip and then place a drop of blood on the test strip. The meter counts down by filling in a circle before displaying the glucose number. It uses a color coding system to visually show if it’s within range, borderline, or high. It then immediately takes you to a screen that allows you to indicate if its pre-meal, post-meal or a bedtime reading and then insert additional information related to carbs, insulin, physical activity, and even tags.
The App- Tracking and Analytics
Overall, I’m impressed with this app and how intuitive and easy to use it is. I think it does a really good job of logging important information and then displaying it in a meaningful way to the user. You are able to set up a personal profile which includes your blood glucose thresholds, hyper/hypo warnings, and then the type of basal/bolus medication you use.You can sync fitness apps, track food, and set reminders in the app.
Logbook and charts
The app automatically stores every reading in the logbook and you can decide if you want to view it more as a list, a timeline or a chart. The chart will graph up to the last 14 days. You can also easily share your logbook either as a PDF or CSV with your phone contacts or by entering an email address.
The statistics tab gives you a great summary for the day, or the last 7, 30 or 90 days. It will tell you how many readings you had, the lowest and highest and then breaks it down by how many were in range, below or above range and then how many hypos/hypers you had based on your settings. If you click the summary box, it will show you all the readings that fell into that category. It also shows on the website that the app estimates your A1c.
Things I like and Areas for Improvement
What I love:
- I love how everything fits together into one device. Instead of carrying around my pouch with all the separate pieces (meter, test strips, lancing device, etc), all I really need is the one device and my phone
- It’s great at logging everything and makes it super convenient to share
- I don’t have to worry about charging my meter, as long as my phone has battery, the meter will work
Some drawbacks/areas for improvement:
- It’s a slightly slower process. Maybe I’m just used to my old meter, but I find that the whole process takes a little longer to test. Since it’s an app on my phone, I need to unlock my phone, open the app (sometimes it takes a second to load), insert the attachment and then test. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a relatively fast process, but I found that when I was in a hurry, I resorted back to my old meter
- It doesn’t sync with any other diabetes devices. This might be the biggest drawback. My other meter at least would send the reading to my pump. This meter doesn’t. So if I’m correcting or bolusing, I have to manually enter my bg number in my pump.
- My summary feels misleading. I have a CGM that I use in addition to my meter. Most often it’s when my CGM says that I’m high that I test to get a more accurate number to correct and give insulin. For that reason, high blood sugars are over-represented in my logbook on the app and isn’t really capturing the whole story. If the app was able to integrate with my CGM, it would give a much more accurate picture of my blood sugar history.
- Greater integration. This is not only with diabetes devices, but also other apps. It’s great that you can link a fitness app like runkeeper, hopefully the list of apps or wearable devices that it links with will continue to grow and include some food tacking apps as well, like MyFitnessPal. It would be great if the app could be used as a one stop shop for diabetes health more generally, including fitness and healthy eating. Also, it would make entering data related to fitness easier. Currently it asks you to enter physical activity as calories burned whereas entering the amount of time would be easier.