Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Blog exclusive: The UK LibreLink app launch


Exciting diabetes techy stuff on the blog today! 

Abbott's LibreLink app has been launched in the UK for android users who wear the FreeStyle Libre glucose sensors, with an aim of making diabetes management even more simple. You can get the app in the Play Store if you have a smartphone with NFC (Near Field Communication) capabilities. 

So basically you can scan your sensor with your phone and get all of the data that you would with the current reader and more! 

On Tuesday night I was invited to chat with some of the Abbott Libre crew about their plans to launch the app and to ask any questions that I may have as a Libre user. The chat kicked off with an overview of the app from Research and Development/Innovation Product Lead, Joel, who talked about the Libre Link being the next logical step in the Libre journey. 

Now many of you may know that this app isn't quite new. I was first told about it in March 2014 and I had to keep it to myself until it became common knowledge last year - If you know me you will know just how hard keeping quiet about technology is! But finally the the app received the green light for use in the UK in May this year which is great because I've been itching to use it for such a long time now.

Joel talked about the app being part of a larger trend in a growing number of medical apps that work with smart phones which are regulated for use with medical devices, describing the app as either a replacement or a companion to the current method of scanning sensors via a handset/reader. 

There were a few notable differences between the reader and the app mentioned. The first being that a phone won't provide the ability for users to use strip based tests, secondly there won't be an insulin calculator on the app. I don't know how many people use these options but personally I rarely have in the 2 years that I've been using the sensors, so they aren't features that I will miss. Benefits the app provides are that it is one less device to carry around to monitor glucose levels, it has a larger display than the current reader has which provides a better user experience, the use of colour to alert the user to changes in glucose levels and for diasend users, data can be shared directly to the cloud and viewed alongside diasend insulin pump/blood glucose data displays. 

A live demo of the app was provided by Stephen Dixon (our Type 1 celeb!) who was a part of the user experience group and he only had good things to say about the app. He talked about how straight forward it is to use and how handy he found the colour coding according to where his glucose levels were at any given time. Red for hypo, green for in target and amber for hyper. He described the bigger graphs which weren't as compressed as they are on the current reader screen and seemed impressed with the fact that the app displayed an estimated HbA1c level.

Here are a few extra bits of info that I found out that evening:

  • The 'scan experience' is dictated by the size and location of the NFC antenna meaning that each phone's scan point will be different depending on the model
  • There is an option for 'limited late join', meaning that if you only want to try the app but still use the current handset/reader you can scan first on the reader and within an hour of starting the sensor you can also scan with your phone and give it a whirl
  • You can use both the phone and the reader for the same sensor (handy if one runs out of battery)
  • If your phone is lost or damaged then your data will fly up into the cloud for safe keeping
  • Additional text can be added to the standard, pre-defined, events (such as exercise and food events), through a text input box
  • The NHS funding process that Abbott is currently working towards will not be affected (this was my first question)
  • In terms of battery life being zapped on your phone, the app is relatively low in power consumption, however this obviously depends on the frequency/intensity of use. If you scan up to 20 times a day the app will use, on average, 5% of your phone's battery life
  • Storage wise, it was said that the app would have a minimal impact on storage
  • IT'S FREE!!  

Obviously, like any technology, it's always best to try it out for yourself and see how you get along with it, just like I intend to do as of today. The info provided in this blog has been taken from the conversations I had with Abbott and the guest speakers they had lined up, and from their press release. I have not used the app myself therefore I cannot give any personal views on its features, benefits, use etc, but I certainly intend to once I have had a good few days to get used to it. 

I can say that I am excited to use it and this may finally be the diabetes app that works for me! Many of you may know that I try apps for my diabetes constantly but none have stayed installed on my phone for longer than a week... I just haven't found any that work for me. Let's see how the LibreLink fairs!

If you have any questions about the app then do tweet @FreeStyleDiabet who will probably be able to provide you with much more information that I can.

And please do let me know what you think of the app - peer review is really important! 

Fpor more details and FAQs on the LibreLink app, please visit the app's support page here.

Laura/Ninjabetic x 

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