Apple is working on a sensor that would monitor diabetics’ blood sugar levels, according to CNBC. It’s been in the works since the days of Steve Jobs, who reportedly envisioned a wearable like Apple Watch that would keep tabs on people’s health.
This story is of great personal interest to me since I have been a type 2 diabetic for over 25 years. I have worked hard to keep my A1C numbers in check, a measurement that determines blood sugar numbers over a three-month period. Non-diabetics have A1C numbers well under 5.0 and, as a diabetic, my safe numbers must be kept in the 6.0-7.0 range.
Apple would not be the first to deliver a monitoring solution for diabetics. I have used Dexcom’s Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) for over a year now, for example, and it has changed the management of my diabetes for the better. A sensor on my stomach uses two small, hair-like wires that get blood sugar readings from an interstitial fluid just below the skin every five minutes.
When I first started using it, the accuracy rate was within 5 to 15 percent of actual glucose readings. But in the last year, Dexcom has tweaked the software, and now my readings are within four or five points of what I would get if I did a pinprick reading via some type of external blood-testing kit. Sometimes my readings are even identical to the pinprick numbers, showing that Dexcom has made major strides in delivering accurate readings. I can keep tabs on my numbers via the Dexcom app; readings are sent via a wireless Bluetooth transmitter that sits on top of the sensor. To get my current blood sugar reading, I just glance at my watch.
Dexcom’s approach is called an invasive CGM because it has tiny needles that prick the patient’s stomach. In fact, many other CGM devices being considered for approval by the FDA are still invasive. However, there is much work being done to try to get these blood sugar readings via light pulses or sensors on a wrist band or watch. It’s very hard to do, and I have not yet seen tech that’s even close to being in a place for the FDA to approve. CNBC suggests that’s what Apple is working on, but that is highly speculative.
The only downside is cost. If a person were to pay for this solution out of pocket, the sensors cost $300 a month and a transmitter that lasts three months costs $250. Thankfully, in my case, insurance covers 50 percent of this cost, but even that is still pricey for me and many who have proper medical insurance. If Apple tackles this area, a real breakthrough would be an affordable, non-invasive, and accurate solution.