Last night my 14 1/2 yr old daughter Melissa and I participated in a market research panel for a prototype for a blood glucose monitoring device. The company making the device was not mentioned. The earlier group that evening was comprised of kids 6-12 and their parents; whereas our group ranged from age 13-17. The kids and parents were in separate rooms. After quizzing the eight parents about our children's respective bg checking habits (how often, where, record-keeping, etc.) and then asking for our ideas of what an ideal meter would be, they had us rejoin our kids for a demonstration of the new prototype gizmo.
When the moderator said this was a device to check bg without pricking your fingers, I was really excited--until I saw it. It's shaped sort of like the base for an electric toothbrush (or screwdriver), only wider. Right away, that was a turn off because we'd just finished saying we needed a teeny, accurate, memory-retentive, all-in-one device that our kids could slip into their jeans pocket!
What you do is place the gizmo on your forearm or thigh -- STOP! Problem #2 as noted by the parents: what about athletes all "geared up" who can't easily access their forearms or thighs? And what about adults with diabetes at "power lunches" in business suits.
Next you press down (after setting the trigger like a traditional lancing device) and the lancet (which you've previously inserted within the gizmo, hence eliminating an additional device) pierces the skin. The problem is that, unlike fingers which bleed more readily, other body parts tend to "re-seal" rapidly. To prevent this, there are two inner rings which create a "seal" of sorts and, after "pumping" the spring-loaded device several times slowly, you get a sufficiently sized dot of blood (which is all you need).
Next step is to turn the device over to the top end, where you've already inserted a test strip (still need to cart around the vial of strips) which has a protruding itsy-bitsy wick that suctks the blood dot up into the meter to be read. Since the prototype didn't have any internal parts, we were only testing the process, not the actual blood glucose measurement accuracy.
The general post-testing consensus (parents and kids) was that it was weird. The kids likened it to a vampire sucking up your blood! Some comments were:
- "definitely too bulky for easy portability" (a critical requirement for teens);
- "no better than what they were currently doing"
- "less discrete than just checking under the table if need be in an unfamiliar social setting"
Since it was painless, the parents felt it had potential beneficial applications for young children who DO balk at the finger pricks and whose parents are generally doing the finger pricks anyway. None of the teens really minded the finger pricks, because they were so used to doing it and their fingers had become callused enough not to hurt anymore. We also thought it had potential benefits for elderly Type II diabetics who lacked the dexterity to squeeze blood out of their fingers and hence tested less frequently than they should be. My daughter however felt that it required more dexterity to maneuver, but that may just have been because it was new. She did try it, as did several other teens and a few parents.
Some of the kids noted that their arms continued to bleed a little at the pierced site far longer than their fingers do. So I guess it's back to the drawing boards for the company's technicians. Sorry I can't present a more enthusiastic review, but with all the disappointing outcomes to date (the Dream Beam, etc.), I suppose it's still encouraging that other avenues are being explored.
Renee receives e-mail at [email protected].
Original posting: 17 Oct 1997
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