Dexcom Share: Product Review

Unpacking the Dexcom share reminded me of the same level of excitement that I had when I got most of the Apple devices: a clean experience that builds anticipation and contributes to a continued positive experience.

Let me proceed my comment by indicating that my experience with my Dexcom CGM is unlike any other I have had with any othe diabetes device in my life, including my insulin pumps (I have been on two in the past decade) and a variety of glucose meters I have used since 2002. I have lost track of the number of times my Dexcom has saved my life: being awaken by or alerting my wife of a dangerously low blood sugar has literally averted disaster on countless occasions.

So naturally I was very happy when I heard that the Dexcom Share had been given the green light by FDA in the US. This setup consists of:

  • A docking station that charges your Dexcom G4 while it connects via Bluetooth with your iOS device (an Android version is in the works, as I understand).
  • The Dexcom Share app that allows you to pair your Dexcom receiver with a Dexcom account “in the cloud” so your data can be shared with those you want to. This app is available through the Apple App Store.
  • The Dexcom Follow app that allows those whom you want to share your Dexcom’s 24-hr window of data along with a few alerts for lows or highs, to Se the data. This app too is available through the App Store.

Getting up and running is quite straightforward (it took me no more than 10 minutes or so), and I felt the process should be fairly intuitive for anyone that has paired Bluetooth devices or paired remotes to receivers. Here’s how I found the experience with each of the pieces of the setup.

THE DOCK

I found the design sleek, though perhaps a bit bulky. You can have it standing up or sideways (with convenient anti-slippery things below) to fit different spaces on your night table.

The principle that it belongs on the night table is an interesting one because it is mostly set up to be parked somewhere, since it has to be plugged to a power source to work. My friend Kelly and her crew made me realize that you could take the Share on the road as long as you can plug it to a portable USB power source, like a Mophie, but that is more of a hack (it’s fairly bulky of a combo) than the way the product appears to be designed for.

The Dexcom Share dock with the Receiver in, powered by a Mophie battery pack.

The Dexcom Share dock with the Receiver in, powered by a Mophie battery pack.

The only annoying thing about the dock was the brightness of the LEDs (a green one indicating power, and a blue one indicating Bluetooth connection, which was VERY bright at night). I may end up putting an opaque tape on top of them, because otherwise there is no way to have the Dexcom screen facing you without being “blinded” by the intensity of the LEDs. Well, maybe not blinded, but they are very bright indeed!

THE DEXCOM SHARE APP

As soon as I fired up the Share app (as instructed in the quick setup instructions in the inside cover of the box), I was greeted by GlucoMonster. Although admittedly cute, I couldn’t help but being immediately reminded of the monsters from MySugr, plus the plushy character (whose role is to signal of there are connectivity problems with your Dexcom via the Share dock) doesn’t really resonate strongly with the Dexcom brand for me. Don’t ask me why: I would honestly do away with the little fellow (nothing personal, dude!)

GlucoMonster

Getting the serial number typed in to pair the app to the receiver proved to be challenging in two ways:

  1. I forgot to write it down (as instructed on the same instructions) before plugging the Dexcom to the dock. I ended up pulling it out and taking a picture of it. It may be a nice (though tiny) future improvement to move the serial number sticker to the opposite side of the receiver so it sticks out visibly outside the dock when the receiver is in it.
  2. After routine use (wear and tear) after years, the sticker can be hard to read. Maybe the app could sense any nearby Dexcom receivers/docks, similarly to how you pair Bluetooth devices?

After the S/N was in, it was very straightforward to complete the process, but I admit that I was missing being able to SEE the CGM data within the same app. I gave up, realizing the Share app was designed to do just that: share the data. So I downloaded the Dexcom Follow app, to get a feel for it, and see that part of the experience too. But not without first inviting my wife to follow my numbers through it too.

THE DEXCOM FOLLOW APP

The experience my wife had with the email she received inviting her to follow me was clean and straightforward: I picture this will be the experience of most people that get this invitation.

The invitation message lto a new follower looks very straightforward.

The invitation message lto a new follower looks very straightforward.

I fully anticipate the need to make the invitation process a bit more sophisticated in the not too distant future, as people change phones, delete apps, etc. which hopefully won’t mean that they need to create a new Dexcom user account to follow someone else every time they change iOS devices. Yet, any observations to improve the user experience and the setup flow PALE when compared to my wife’s joy over being able to see my glucose data remotely. I travel a lot for work, and this is something that has always worried her.

I eventually set up my own Dexcom Follow app, to be able to view my own numbers on my phone: it honestly felt odd, and I would definitely envision a more integrated experience for people whose phones are both sharing and following their own data. Or maybe it’s not a frequent use case, but to me that flow in the experience felt a bit odd.

Now that my wife and I are both setup to see my CGM readings for the past 24 hours, we are VERY happy!!

Disclaimer:
I own under 100 stocks of Dexcom, and I received my initial Dexcom kit and the Dexcom Share free of charge. The opinion I express here is entirely my own and hasn’t been vetted by Dexcom. All they asked of me was to share my opinion about the Share.

Balancing Diabetes: Kerri @SixUntilMe’s first book

** Full disclosure (and something I am very proud of): I am a good friend of Kerri… Having said that, every last word I am about to share with you about her book is nothing but the truth, the whole truth, so help me God! 😉

If you haven’t read SixUntilMe.com and you or a loved one live with diabetes, you should… because it will provide you with a window into the soul of one of the kindest and most fun humans with diabetes you are going to run into: Kerri Sparling. So, when I heard about her book, and when she kindly interviewed me as part of one of the chapters, I was beyond ecstatic!

In “Balancing Diabetes“, Kerri’s voice and personality shine through loud and clear. Chapter after chapter, she continues to open up her story to us, inviting many of her d-friends along, in a book that feels more like a warm and candid chat between buddies than a paperback title. Her selflessness also is central to the book: she always gives and and seeks to shine the spotlight on others. The net effect is a book that empowers you with tons more information than an individual experience: it feels as if a whole tribe (the DOC – Diabetes Online Community) is joining in on this one through the experience of dozens of people with diabetes.

Then again, it’s not only about the content that Kerri exposes us to, but about her style… she is an extremely accomplished writer (and I don’t say this because she kicked my butt as my editor during the years I wrote for dLife)! The imagery she employs, her impeccable and brilliant use of humor (example, how she portrays wearing an insulin pump as “cyborg badassery” – p. 112)… all of it makes for a delighting and highly entertaining book, aside from the fact that you are absorbing tons of precious insights from her and many others who add up a good few hundred collective years of life with diabetes.

Unlike Kerri, I was diagnosed with diabetes as an adult, but reading her book as a parent (though I am the one with diabetes and not my child), her mom’s stories about Kerri’s diabetes touched me deeply. For example, when she says “you don’t punish for diabetes, you punish for irresponsibility. Diabetes just happens to be an example of something to be irresponsible with.” A participar chapter that rocked for me as well was “Walking the Bloodsugar Tightrope”. In it she captures amazing insights from Dr. Shara Bialo (pediatric endocrinologist with type 1 diabetes) and Dr. Jill Weissberg-Benchell, one of the world’s most amazing psychologists as it relates to diabetes.

She brings it all home in the final chapter… one that I anticipate giving you goosebumps. If it doesn’t, well… you may want to check the endocrine gland in charge of goosebumps! 😉

Reading Kerri’s book I rediscovered why I admire her so much. Like her I too have found diabetes to give me a reason to stand up for myself and others. Thanks Kerri for reminding us that diabetes doesn’t define us but it helps understand us!